Comparative study of interactions between chloroquine and chlorpheniramine or promethazine in healthy volunteers: a potential combination-therapy phenomenon for resuscitating chloroquine for malaria treatment in Africa

Ann Trop Med Parasitol. 2008 Jan;102(1):3-9. doi: 10.1179/136485908X252179.


Although, in in-vitro and limited in-vivo studies, chlorpheniramine (CP) and promethazine (PR) have each been shown to reverse chloroquine (CQ) resistance, the pharmacokinetic basis of this reversal has not been fully elucidated. In the present study, 15 healthy volunteers were randomly allotted to receive standard doses of CQ alone or in combination with CP or PR. Blood samples were collected from each volunteer at 21 time-points, from immediately before to 168 h after the initial dose. These samples were used to follow the changes in the plasma and erythrocytic concentrations of CQ. The ratio between the mean maximum CQ concentration in the erythrocytes and that in the plasma was 4.2 for the volunteers given CQ alone, 7.3 in those given CQ-CP, and 3.2 in those given CQ-PR. CP significantly enhanced the erythrocytic accumulation of CQ, increasing the maximum CQ concentration observed in the erythrocytes by 24% (P = 0.02). The bio-availability of CQ was also significantly increased in the presence of CP, with the mean value for the area under the curve, of erythrocytic concentration v. time, increasing from 99,921 to 214,516 ng/ml.h (P=0.001). The mean half-life of CQ in the erythrocytes also increased when CP was used, from 51 to 100 h, but this change was not statistically significant (P=0.83). In contrast to CP, PR had no statistically significant effect on the disposition of CQ. As CP clearly enhances disposition of CQ, a combination of CQ with CP may be useful in the management of CQ-resistant infections. Detailed toxicological studies are required to understand the full clinical implications of CP's elevation of erythrocytic CQ concentrations.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Antimalarials / therapeutic use*
  • Area Under Curve
  • Chloroquine / blood
  • Chloroquine / therapeutic use*
  • Chlorpheniramine / therapeutic use*
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Drug Interactions
  • Drug Resistance
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Histamine H1 Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Malaria, Falciparum / blood
  • Malaria, Falciparum / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Nigeria
  • Plasmodium falciparum / parasitology
  • Promethazine / therapeutic use*


  • Antimalarials
  • Histamine H1 Antagonists
  • Chlorpheniramine
  • Chloroquine
  • Promethazine