Immunomodulatory Effects of Hydroxychloroquine and Chloroquine in Viral Infections and Their Potential Application in Retinal Gene Therapy
Chandler L., Yusuf I., McClements M., Barnard A., MacLaren R., Xue K.
Effective treatment of retinal diseases with adeno-associated virus (AAV)-mediated gene therapy is highly dependent on the proportion of successfully transduced cells. However, due to inflammatory reactions at high vector doses, adjunctive treatment may be necessary to enhance the therapeutic outcome. Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are anti-malarial drugs that have been successfully used in the treatment of autoimmune diseases. Evidence suggests that at high concentrations, hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine can impact viral infection and replication by increasing endosomal and lysosomal pH. This effect has led to investigations into the potential benefits of these drugs in the treatment of viral infections, including human immunodeficiency virus and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2. However, at lower concentrations, hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine appear to exert immunomodulatory effects by inhibiting nucleic acid sensors, including toll-like receptor 9 and cyclic GMP-AMP synthase. This dose-dependent effect on their mechanism of action supports observations of increased viral infections associated with lower drug doses. In this review, we explore the immunomodulatory activity of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, their impact on viral infections, and their potential to improve the efficacy and safety of retinal gene therapy by reducing AAV-induced immune responses. The safety and practicalities of delivering hydroxychloroquine into the retina will also be discussed.