Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Primaquine (PQ) is the only antimalarial medication used to eradicate many species of Plasmodium gametocytes and prevent relapse in vivax and ovale malarias. PQ metabolites induce oxidative stress and impair parasitic mitochondria, leading to protozoal growth retardation and death. Collateral damage is also presented in mammalian host cells, particularly erythrocytes, resulting in hemolysis and tissue destruction. However, the underlying mechanisms of these complications, particularly the mitochondria-mediated cell death of the host, are poorly understood. In the present study, toxicopathological studies were conducted on a rat model to determine the effect of PQ on affected tissues and mitochondrial toxicity. The results indicated that the LD50 for PQ is 200 mg/kg. A high dose of PQ induced hemolytic anemia, elevated a hepatic enzyme (SGPT), and induced proximal tubular degeneration, ventricular cardiomyopathy, and mitochondrial dysregulation. In addition, PQ induced the upregulation of apoptosis-related proteins Drp-1 and caspase-3, with a positive correlation, as well as the pro-apoptotic mitochondrial gene expression of Bax, reflecting the toxic effect of high doses of PQ on cellular damage and mitochondrial apoptosis in terms of hepatotoxicity, nephrotoxicity, and cardiotoxicity. Regarding the risk/benefit ratio of drug administration, our research provides caution for the use of PQ in the treatment of malaria based on its toxicopathological effects.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





Department of Clinical Tropical Medicine, Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, 420/6 Ratchawithi Road, Ratchathewi, Bangkok 10400, Thailand.