The anti-malarial drug Chloroquine (CQ) and its derivative hydroxychloroquine have shown antiviral activities in vitro against many viruses, including coronaviruses, dengue virus and the biosafety level 4 Nipah and Hendra paramyxoviruses. The in vivo efficacy of CQ in the treatment of COVID-19 is currently a matter of debate. CQ is a lysosomotrophic compound that accumulates in lysosomes, as well as in food vacuoles of Plasmodium falciparum. In the treatment of malaria, CQ impairs the digestion and growth of the parasite by increasing the pH of the food vacuole. Similarly, it is assumed that the antiviral effects of CQ results from the increase of lysosome pH and the inhibition of acidic proteases involved in the maturation of virus fusion protein. CQ has however other effects, among which phospholipidosis, characterized by the accumulation of multivesicular bodies within the cell. The increase in phospholipid species particularly concerns bis(monoacylglycero)phosphate (BMP), a specific lipid of late endosomes involved in vesicular trafficking and pH-dependent vesicle budding. It was shown previously that drugs like progesterone, the cationic amphiphile U18666A and the phospholipase inhibitor methyl arachidonyl fluoro phosphonate (MAFP) induce the accumulation of BMP in THP-1 cells and decrease cell infection by human immunodeficiency virus. HIV viral particles were found to be retained into large endosomal-type vesicles, preventing virus spreading. Since BMP was also reported to favour virus entry through hijacking of the endocytic pathway, we propose here that BMP could play a dual role in viral infection, with its antiviral effects triggered by lysosomotropic drugs like CQ.
Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier B.V.