Author Topic: Mefloquine Induces Dose-Related Neurological Effects in a Rat Model  (Read 1322 times)

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Mefloquine is one of the drugs approved by the FDA for malaria chemoprophylaxis. Mefloquine is also approved for the treatment of malaria and is widely used for this purpose in combination with artesunate. However, the clinical utility of the compound has been compromised by reports of adverse neurological effects in some patients. In the present study, the potential neurological effects of mefloquine were investigated with six 7-week-old female rats given a single oral dose of the compound. Potential mefloquine-induced neurological effects were monitored using a standard functional observational battery, automated open field tests, automated spontaneous activity monitoring, a beam traverse task, and histopathology. Plasma mefloquine concentrations were determined 72 h after dosing by using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. Mefloquine induced dose-related changes in endpoints associated with spontaneous activity and impairment of motor function and caused degeneration of specific brain stem nuclei (nucleus gracilis). Increased spontaneous motor activity was observed only during the rats' normal sleeping phase, suggesting a correlate to mefloquine-induced sleep disorders. The threshold dose for many of these effects was 187 mg/kg of body weight. This dose yielded plasma mefloquine concentrations after 72 h that are similar to those observed in humans after the treatment dose. Collectively, these data suggest that there may be a biological basis for some of the clinical neurological effects associated with mefloquine.
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