Quinolones: review of psychiatric and neurological adverse reactions

Drug Saf. 2011 Jun 1;34(6):465-88. doi: 10.2165/11587280-000000000-00000.


Quinolones are a class of antibacterial agents for the treatment of several infectious diseases (e.g. urinary and respiratory tract infections). They are used worldwide due to their broad spectrum of activity, high bioavailability and good safety profile. The safety profile varies from quinolone to quinolone. The aim of this article was to review the neurological and psychiatric adverse drug reaction (ADR) profile of quinolones, using a literature search strategy designed to identify case reports and case series. A literature search using PubMed/MEDLINE (from inception to 31 October 2010) was performed to identify case reports and case series related to quinolone-associated neurological and psychiatric ADRs. The search was conducted in two phases: the first phase was the literature search and in the second phase relevant articles were identified through review of the references of the selected articles. Relevant articles were defined as articles referring to adverse events/reactions associated with the use of any quinolone. Abstracts referring to animal studies, clinical trials and observational studies were excluded. Identified case reports were analysed by age group, sex, active substances, dosage, concomitant medication, ambulatory or hospital-based event and seriousness, after Medical Dictionary for Regulatory Activities (MedDRA®) coding. From a total of 828 articles, 83 were identified as referring to nervous system and/or psychiatric disorders induced by quinolones. 145 individual case reports were extracted from the 83 articles. 40.7% of the individual case reports belonged to psychiatric disorders only, whereas 46.9% related to neurological disorders only. Eight (5.5%) individual case reports presented both neurological and psychiatric ADRs. Ciprofloxacin, ofloxacin and pefloxacin were the quinolones with more neurological and psychiatric ADRs reported in the literature. Ciprofloxacin has been extensively used worldwide, which may explain the higher number of reports, while for ofloxacin and pefloxacin, the number of reports may be over-representative. A total of 232 ADRs were identified from the selected articles, with 206 of these related to psychiatric and/or neurological ADRs. The other 26 were related to other body systems but were reported together with the reactions of interest. Mania, insomnia, acute psychosis and delirium were the most frequently reported psychiatric adverse events; grand mal convulsion, confusional state, convulsions and myoclonus were the most frequently reported neurological adverse events. Several aspects should be taken into account in the development of CNS adverse effects, such as the pharmacokinetics of quinolones, chemical structure and quinolone uptake in the brain. These events may affect not only susceptible patients but also 'healthy' patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / chemically induced*
  • Nervous System Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Quinolones / adverse effects*
  • Quinolones / therapeutic use


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Quinolones