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Ivermectin (IVM) could be used for malaria control as treated individuals are lethal to blood-feeding Anopheles, resulting in reduced transmission. Tafenoquine (TQ) is used to clear the liver reservoir of Plasmodium vivax and as a prophylactic treatment in high-risk populations. It has been suggested to use ivermectin and tafenoquine in combination, but the safety of these drugs in combination has not been evaluated. Early derivatives of 8-aminoquinolones (8-AQ) were neurotoxic, and ivermectin is an inhibitor of the P-glycoprotein (P-gp) blood brain barrier (BBB) transporter. Thus, there is concern that co-administration of these drugs could be neurotoxic. This study aimed to evaluate the safety and pharmacokinetic interaction of tafenoquine, ivermectin, and chloroquine (CQ) in Rhesus macaques. No clinical, biochemistry, or hematological outcomes of concern were observed. The Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB) was employed to assess potential neurological deficits following drug administration. Some impairment was observed with tafenoquine alone and in the same monkeys with subsequent co-administrations. Co-administration of chloroquine and tafenoquine resulted in increased plasma exposure to tafenoquine. Urine concentrations of the 5,6 orthoquinone TQ metabolite were increased with co-administration of tafenoquine and ivermectin. There was an increase in ivermectin plasma exposure when co-administered with chloroquine. No interaction of tafenoquine on ivermectin was observed in vitro. Chloroquine and trace levels of ivermectin, but not tafenoquine, were observed in the cerebrospinal fluid. The 3''-O-demethyl ivermectin metabolite was observed in macaque plasma but not in urine or cerebrospinal fluid. Overall, the combination of ivermectin, tafenoquine, and chloroquine did not have clinical, neurological, or pharmacological interactions of concern in macaques; therefore, this combination could be considered for evaluation in human trials.

Original publication




Journal article


Antimicrob Agents Chemother

Publication Date



chloroquine, ivermectin, macaque, pharmacokinetics, safety, tafenoquine