Pyronaridine: a review of its clinical pharmacology in the treatment of malaria

Authors: Chu WY, Dorlo TPC
Publication: J Antimicrobial Chemotherapy


Pyronaridine-artesunate was recently strongly recommended in the 2022 update of the WHO Guidelines for the Treatment of Malaria, becoming the newest artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) for both uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax malaria. Pyronaridine-artesunate, available as a tablet and paediatric granule formulations, is being adopted in regions where malaria treatment outcome is challenged by increasing chloroquine resistance. Pyronaridine is an old antimalarial agent that has been used for more than 50 years as a blood schizonticide, which exerts its antimalarial activity by interfering with the synthesis of the haemozoin pigment within the Plasmodium digestive vacuole. Pyronaridine exhibits a high blood-to-plasma distribution ratio due to its tendency to accumulate in blood cells. This feature is believed to play a crucial role in its pharmacokinetic (PK) properties and pharmacological activity. The PK characteristics of pyronaridine include rapid oral absorption, large volumes of distribution and low total body clearance, resulting in a long terminal apparent half-life. Moreover, differences in PK profiles have been observed between healthy volunteers and malaria-infected patients, indicating a potential disease-related impact on PK properties. Despite a long history, there is only limited knowledge of the clinical PK and pharmacodynamics of pyronaridine, particularly in special populations such as children and pregnant women. We here provide a comprehensive overview of the clinical pharmacology of pyronaridine in the treatment of malaria.

By Wan-Yu Chu, Thomas P C Dorlo