Chloroquine reduces whole body proteolysis in humans

P. De Feo, E. Volpi, P. Lucidi, G. Cruciani, F. Santeusanio, G. B. Bolli, P. Brunetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The antimalaric drug chloroquine is a well known inhibitor of lysosomal proteolysis in vitro. The present study tests the hypothesis that therapeutic doses of the drug decrease proteolysis also in vivo in humans. Leucine kinetics were determined in 20 healthy volunteers given 12 and 1.5 h before the studies 250 and 500 mg, respectively, of chloroquine phosphate (n = 10) or similar tablets of placebo (n = 10). Chloroquine reduced the rates of leucine appearance, a measure of whole body proteolysis, from 2.45 ± 0.08 to 2.19 ± 0.08 μmol · kg-1 · min-1 (P = 0.038) and those of nonoxidative leucine disposal, an estimate of whole body protein synthesis, from 2.16 ± 0.08 to 1.95 ± 0.06 μmol · kg-1 · min-1 (P = 0.050). The drug resulted also in a marginally significant (P = 0.051) decrement in the plasma concentrations of glucose. The effects of chloroquine on protein turnover might be potentially useful in counteracting protein wasting complicating several catabolic diseases, whereas those on glucose metabolism can explain the sporadic occurrence of severe hypoglycemic episodes in malaria patients chronically treated with this drug.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E183-E186
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number1 30-1
StatePublished - 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • leucine kinetics
  • malaria
  • protein catabolism
  • rheumathoid arthritis
  • α-ketoisocaproate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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