Preprint Review Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Widely Available Lysosomotropic Agents Should Be Considered as a Potential Therapy for COVID-19

Version 1 : Received: 21 March 2020 / Approved: 23 March 2020 / Online: 23 March 2020 (07:28:51 CET)
Version 2 : Received: 23 March 2020 / Approved: 24 March 2020 / Online: 24 March 2020 (06:26:54 CET)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.


While the COVID-19 pandemic advances, the scientific community struggles in the search for treatments. Several improvements have been made, including the discovery of clinical efficacy of chloroquine (CQ) in COVID-19 patients, but the effective treatment protocols are still missing. In order to find novel treatment options many scientists utilize the in silico approach to identify compounds that could interfere with the key molecules involved in entrance, replication, or dissemination of the SARS-CoV-2. However, most of the identified molecules are currently not available as pharmacological agents, and assessing their safety and efficacy could take many months. Here, we took a different approach based on the proposed pharmacodynamic model of CQ in COVID-19. The main mechanism of action responsible for the favourable outcome of COVID-19 patients treated with CQ seems to be related to pH modulation-mediated effect on the endolysosomal trafficking, a characteristic of chemical compounds often called lysosomotropic agents because of the physico-chemical properties that enable them to passively diffuse through the endosomal membrane and undergo protonation-based trapping in the lumen of the acidic vesicles. In this review, we discuss lysosomotropic drugs that are already in clinical use and are characterized by good safety profiles, low cost, and wide availability. We emphasize that some of these drugs, in particular azithromycin and other macrolide antibiotics, indomethacin and some other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, proton pump inhibitors, and fluoxetine could provide additional therapeutic benefits in addition to the potential antiviral effect that still has to be confirmed by well-controlled clinical trials. As some of these drugs, mostly antibiotics, were already empirically used in the treatment of COVID-19, we encourage our colleagues all over the world to publish patient data so potential efficacy of lysosomotropic agents can be evaluated in the clinical context and rapidly implemented in the therapeutic protocols if the beneficial effect on clinical outcome is observed.


COVID-19; lysosomotropic agents; endosome; antiviral; drug repurposing


Medicine and Pharmacology, Pharmacology and Toxicology

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