Transporter Inhibition Profile for the Antivirals Tilorone, Quinacrine and Pyronaridine

Patricia A. Vignaux, Thomas R. Lane, Ana C. Puhl, Raymond K. Hau, Stephen H. Wright, Nathan J. Cherrington, Sean Ekins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pyronaridine, tilorone and quinacrine are cationic molecules that have in vitro activity against Ebola, SARS-CoV-2 and other viruses. All three molecules have also demonstrated in vivo activity against Ebola in mice, while pyronaridine showed in vivo efficacy against SARS-CoV-2 in mice. We have recently tested these molecules and other antivirals against human organic cation transporters (OCTs) and apical multidrug and toxin extruders (MATEs). Quinacrine was found to be an inhibitor of OCT2, while tilorone and pyronaridine were less potent, and these displayed variability depending on the substrate used. To assess whether any of these three molecules have other potential interactions with additional transporters, we have now screened them at 10 μM against various human efflux and uptake transporters including P-gp, OATP1B3, OAT1, OAT3, MRP1, MRP2, MRP3, BCRP, as well as confirmational testing against OCT1, OCT2, MATE1 and MATE2K. Interestingly, in this study tilorone appears to be a more potent inhibitor of OCT1 and OCT2 than pyronaridine or quinacrine. However, both pyronaridine and quinacrine appear to be more potent inhibitors of MATE1 and MATE2K. None of the three compounds inhibited MRP1, MRP2, MRP3, OAT1, OAT3, P-gp or OATP1B3. Similarly, we previously showed that tilorone and pyronaridine do not inhibit OATP1B1 and have confirmed that quinacrine behaves similarly. In total, these observations suggest that the three compounds only appear to interact with OCTs and MATEs to differing extents, suggesting they may be involved in fewer clinically relevant drug-transporter interactions involving pharmaceutical substrates of the other major transporters tested.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12532-12537
Number of pages6
JournalACS Omega
Issue number13
StatePublished - Apr 4 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)


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