Working Paper Communication Version 2 This version is not peer-reviewed

Open Questions for Harnessing Autophagy-Modulating Drugs in the SARS-CoV-2 War: Hope or Hype?

Version 1 : Received: 1 April 2020 / Approved: 3 April 2020 / Online: 3 April 2020 (03:57:49 CEST)
Version 2 : Received: 21 May 2020 / Approved: 23 May 2020 / Online: 23 May 2020 (10:45:40 CEST)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.


At a time when the world faces an emotional breakdown, crushing our dreams if not taking our lives, we realize that together we must fight the war against the COVID-19 outbreak even if almost the majority of the scientific community finds itself confined to home. Every day, like everyone else, we, scientists, listen to the latest news with its promises and announcements. Across the world, a surge of clinical trials trying to cure or slow down the coronavirus pandemic has been launched to bring hope instead of fear and despair. One first proposed clinical trial has drawn worldwide hype to the benefit of chloroquine (CQ), a well-known and broadly used anti-malarial drug, in the treatment of patients infected by the recently emerged deadly coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). We should consider this information in the light of the long-standing anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties of CQ-related drugs. Yet, none of the articles promoting the use of CQ in the current pandemic evoked a possible molecular or cellular mechanism of action that could account for any efficacy. Here, given the interaction of viruses with macroautophagy (hereafter referred to as autophagy), a CQ-sensitive anti-viral safeguard pathway, we would like to discuss the pros, but also the cons concerning the current therapeutic options targeting this process.


anti-viral; COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; autophagy; chloroquine; hydroxychloroquine; immunology; infection; inflammation; lysophagy; microbiology; Plaquenil; SARS; virophagy


Biology and Life Sciences, Virology

Comments (1)

Comment 1
Received: 23 May 2020
Commenter: Patrick Brest
Commenter's Conflict of Interests: Author
Comment: Revised version after Autophagy Journal peer-reviewing
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