Author(s): Bareggi SR, Cornelli U
Clioquinol was produced as a topical antiseptic and marketed as an oral intestinal amebicide in 1934, being used to treat a wide range of intestinal diseases. In the early 1970s, it was withdrawn from the market as an oral agent because of its association with subacute myelo-optic neuropathy (SMON), a syndrome that involves sensory and motor disturbances in the lower limbs and visual changes. The first methods for determining plasma and tissue clioquinol (5-chloro-7-iodo-8-quinolinol) levels were set up in the 1970s and involved HPLC separation with UV detection, these were followed by a more sensitive GC method with electron capture detection and a gaschromatographic-massspectrometric (GC-MS) method. Finally, an HPLC method using electrochemical detection has proved to be as highly sensitive and specific as the GC-MS. In rats, mice, rabbits, and hamsters, clioquinol is rapidily absorbed and undergoes first-pass metabolization to glucuronate and sulfate conjugates; the concentrations of the metabolites are higher than those of free clioquinol. Bioavailabilty versus intraperitoneal dosing is about 12%. Dogs and monkeys form fewer conjugates. In man, single-dose concentrations are dose related, and the drug's half-life is 11-14 h. There is no accumulation, and the drug is much less metabolized to conjugates. Clioquinol acts as a zinc and copper chelator. Metal chelation is a potential therapeutic strategy for Alzheimer's disease (AD) because zinc and copper are involved in the deposition and stabilization of amyloid plaques, and chelating agents can dissolve amyloid deposits in vitro and in vivo. In general, the ability of clioquinol to chelate and redistribute metals plays an important role in diseases characterised by Zn, Cu, Fe dyshomeostasis, such as AD and Parkinson's disease, as it reduces oxidation and the amyloid burden. Zinc chelators may also act as anticancer agents. Animal toxicity studies have revealed species-specific differences in neurotoxic responses that are related to the serum levels of clioquinol and metabolites. This is also true in humans, who form fewer conjugates. The results of studies of Alzheimer patients are conflicting and need further confirmation. The potential therapeutic role of the two main effects of MPACs (the regulation of the distribution of metals and antioxidants) has not yet been fully explored.