Allopurinol as an Additive to Quinine in the Treatment of Acute Complicated Falciparum Malaria

P. S. A. Sarma
Anil K. Mandal
Harry Khamis, Wright State University - Main Campus

Copyright © 1998, American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.


The emergence of chloroquine resistance, and a world-wide scarcity of quinine, have resulted in a search for newer antimalarial drugs directed against falciparum malaria. Allopurinol causes virtually complete inhibition of purine biosynthesis of malaria parasites, which may prove lethal to the parasites. This study was designed to examine if allopurinol is additive to quinine in the treatment of acute falciparum malaria. Forty-seven Asian-Indian adults with acute complicated falciparum malaria were assigned to a treatment period of five days. They were randomly assigned to receive either oral allopurinol (12 mg/kg in three divided doses for five days) plus quinine (600 mg intravenously every 8 hr for two days, followed by 600 mg orally every 8 hr for three days ) (n = 24), or quinine alone (600 mg intravenously every 8 hr for two days, followed by 600 mg orally every 8 hr for three days) (n = 23). The responses were assessed by parasite clearance time, defervescence time, splenomegaly disappearance time, and cure rate. In the allopurinol-quinine (ALLQUIN)-treated group, all the durations were significantly shorter than those in the quinine alone (QUIN)-treated group. They were ALLQUIN versus QUIN (mean ± SD = 65.33 ± 11.47 hr versus 76.78 ± 18.20 hr; P = 0.0214; 57.66 ± 13.01 hr versus 82.52 ± 23.55 hr, P = 0.0002; 10 ± 1.64 days versus 14.65 ± 2.4 days; P = 0.0002), respectively. The cure rate was higher in the ALLQUIN group (91.7%) than in the QUIN group (87%). However, this difference was not statistically significant. Therefore, this study indicates that allopurinol can be an additive to quinine to bring about both faster eradication of Plasmodium falciparum and clinical remission than with quinine alone.