An alkaline comet assay study on the antimalarial drug atovaquone in human peripheral blood lymphocytes: a study based on clinically relevant concentrations


D. Dinter, Pliva Croatia Ltd, Oral Solid Forms, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia.



Atovaquone, a hydroxynaphthoquinone, is an anti-parasite drug, selectively targeting the mitochondrial respiratory chain of malaria parasite. It is used for both the treatment and prevention of malaria, usually in a fixed combination with proguanil. Although atovaquone has not often been associated with severe adverse reactions in the recommended dosages and has a relatively favorable side effect profile, the present study was undertaken to evaluate its cytogenotoxic potential towards human peripheral blood lymphocytes. Two different concentrations of atovaquone found in plasma when used in fixed-dose combination with proguanile hydrochloride were used with and without S9 metabolic activation: 2950 ng ml−1 used for prophylactic treatment and 11 800 ng ml−1 used in treatment of malaria. The results showed that lymphocyte viability was not affected after the treatment, suggesting that atovaquone was not cytotoxic in the given concentrations. With the alkaline comet assay we demonstrated that in human peripheral blood lymphocytes no significant changes in comet parameters occurred after the treatment. There were no differences in tested parameters with the addition of S9 metabolic activation, indicating that atovaquone either has no metabolite or it is not toxic in the given concentrations. Since no effects were observed after the treatment, it is to be concluded that atovaquone is safe from the aspect of genototoxicity in the recommended dosages. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.