Research progress of hydroxychloroquine and autophagy inhibitors on cancer

Cancer Chemother Pharmacol. 2017 Feb;79(2):287-294. doi: 10.1007/s00280-016-3197-1. Epub 2016 Nov 26.


Purpose: Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), the analog of chloroquine, augments the effect of chemotherapies and radiotherapy on various tumors identified in the current clinical trials. Meanwhile, the toxicity of HCQ retinopathy raises concern worldwide. Thus, the potent autophagy inhibitors are urgently needed.

Methods: A systematic review was related to 'hydroxychloroquine' or 'chloroquine' with 'clinical trials,' 'retinopathy' and 'new autophagy inhibitors.' This led to many cross-references involving HCQ, and these data have been incorporated into the following study.

Results: Many preclinical studies indicate that the combination of HCQ with chemotherapies or radiotherapies may enhance the effect of anticancer, providing base for launching cancer clinical trials involving HCQ. The new and more sensitive diagnostic techniques report a prevalence of HCQ retinopathy up to 7.5%. Lys05, SAR405, verteporfin, VATG-027, mefloquine and spautin-1 may be potent autophagy inhibitors.

Conclusion: Additional mechanistic studies of HCQ in preclinical models are still required in order to answer these questions whether HCQ actually inhibits autophagy in non-selective tumors and whether the extent of inhibition would be sufficient to alter chemotherapy or radiotherapy sensitivity.

Keywords: Clinical trials; Hydroxychloroquine; New autophagy inhibitors; Retinopathy.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Autophagy / drug effects*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Hydroxychloroquine / pharmacology
  • Hydroxychloroquine / therapeutic use*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Retina / drug effects


  • Hydroxychloroquine