In vitro studies have shown that anti-malarial drugs suppress immunity. In this study, the effects of chloroquine and proguanil (Paludrine) on the cellular and humoral immune system were measured by two in vivo methods: 1) cell-mediated immunity (delayed cutaneous hypersensitivity) i.e., skin tests with seven delayed-type common antigens (Multitest) and 2) humoral immunity by measurement of specific antibody response to vaccination. Sixty healthy young individuals were randomized into four groups and given 1) no treatment (controls), 2) chloroquine diphosphate (500 mg/week), 3) chloroquine diphosphate (1,000 mg/week), or 4) proguanil hydrochloride (200 mg/day) for six weeks. Skin testing was performed on days 0 and 28. Vaccinations with diphtheria, tetanus, polio, and pneumococcal polysaccharide antigen vaccines were performed on day 28, and the presence of specific antibodies was determined on days 0, 28, and 42. The skin tests induced a significant increase in skin reactive areas from day 0 to day 28 in all groups. Furthermore, the skin test induced an increase in the level of specific IgG for diphtheria and tetanus, but had no effect on antibodies to antigens not included in the skin test. The results showed that there were no significant differences among the four groups regarding skin test areas and increases in antibody titers following vaccination. Therefore, it is concluded that in healthy persons, six weeks intake of chloroquine, even in double doses, or proguanil in chemoprophylactic dosages, does not induce any detectable suppression of delayed-type hypersensitivity or vaccination responses to diphtheria, tetanus, polio, or pneumococcal polysaccharide antigens.
Keywords: Adult; Antibodies, Viral; Antibody Formation; Bacterial Vaccines; Chloroguanide; Chloroquine; Diphtheria Toxoid; Female; Humans; Hypersensitivity, Delayed; Immunity, Cellular; Male; Poliovirus Vaccine, Inactivated; Streptococcus pneumoniae; Tetanus Toxoid