Tag Archives: research

Bucknell University Study Regarding GI Issues and Fluoroquinolones

Dr. Cecelia Bove, PhD, is conducting a study of the gastrointestinal effects of fluoroquinolones, and she is seeking participants to answer questions about their gastrointestinal health post-fluoroquinolone-exposure.

Dr. Bove is looking for more survey participants, and I encourage all floxies to participate. To participate in the study, please send an email requesting a link to the study to cb068@bucknell.edu (the email address on the flyer pictured above bounced, but I was able to reach Dr. Bove through cb068@bucknell.edu). Dr. Bove will send you an email with a link to the study. As advertised, completing the study takes about 15 minutes. The questions are mainly about GI health.

Dr. Bove described the study as follows:

“The purpose of this research is to gain insight into a possible correlation between the intake of fluoroquinolones and permanent damage to the brain areas that regulate the gastrointestinal tract. I am a neuroscientist, and my PhD focused on this issue in the context of another illness, Parkinson’s Disease. My goal is to eventually examine the molecular changes that occur following the administration of fluoroquinolones in animal models, but I would first like to understand the nature of gastrointestinal symptoms that arise after FQLs administration. Despite being fairly known that this is the case, very little research is available describing the nature of gastrointestinal issues. A fairly easy, not time-consuming way to assess this, is through the survey I am inviting you all to fill. It is a short (15 minutes) long survey, in which we will ask you some questions about your gut health. The data gathered from the survey is completely anonymized to protect your identity and stored confidentially solely for analysis purposes. My goal is to gather enough responses (~500) to publish in a peer-reviewed journal and, based on the result, reach out to the FDA and the European Drug Administration to modify the current warnings on FQLs.

This would ultimately be my first paper published on gut health and FQLs. As I said earlier, my expertise was on Parkinson’s Disease, and now that I am a faculty at Bucknell University I have the opportunity to pursue my own research plans. My laboratory is now composed of me and two undergraduate students. We have all undergone training to do human research according to the Institutional Review Board (IRB) to ensure the protection and quality of this type of research. If you are interested in reading more about my previous research, you can find me on pubmed, researchgate, or google scholar. My main co-author was Travagli R.A., so that would help you narrow down the results.”

Those of you who follow my journey may know that my one remaining lingering symptom of fluoroquinolone toxicity is inflammation in my gut. This inflammation results in loose stools, the feeling of a hot coal in my belly at night, insomnia (sometimes), and I even had surgery on my lower GI tract late last year to fix a somewhat embarrassing issue. None of these GI issues inhibit my life terribly. I’m able to work, eat, sleep well enough, live without too much pain, etc. But the inflammation is still there, and it’s a bit worrisome. My GI issues got notably worse years after I got floxed, so it’s difficult to say whether or not they’re connected to the ciprofloxacin I took years ago. I would like to know if the connection exists though, and perhaps Dr. Bove’s study can help to establish connections between fluoroquinolone use and long-term GI problems.

As Dr. Bove noted in the quote above, the survey is anonymized, so your medical information will be secure.

I hope that Dr. Bove gets enough survey participants to draw meaningful conclusions from the data collected, and I encourage you all to participate. Thank you!



Fluoroquinolones Increase Risk of Aortic Aneurysm

Evidence is mounting that fluoroquinolone antibiotics (Cipro, Levaquin, Avelox, Floxin, and their generic equivalents) increase the risk of aortic aneurysm and dissection, yet the FDA is denying the connection between fluoroquinolone use and the potentially deadly vascular conditions.

In a May, 2017 notice on fda.gov, the FDA stated:

“As part of our ongoing review of fluoroquinolone antibiotics, FDA is informing the public that patient cases identified by the FDA and findings from published studies currently do not support reports that these medicines may result in detachment of the retina in the eyes, or bulges or tears in the aorta blood vessel called aortic aneurysm and aortic dissection. We will continue to assess safety issues with fluoroquinolones and will update the public if additional actions are needed.”

This statement was made after two major studies were released, showing the statistically significant increase in risk of aortic dissection and aneurysm with fluoroquinolone use. “Risk of Aortic Dissection and Aortic Aneurysm in Patients Taking Oral Fluoroquinolone” (JAMA Internal Medicine, 2015), and “Fluoroquinolones and collagen associated severe adverse events: a longitudinal cohort study” (BMJ Open, 2015) both found that fluoroquinolone use is associated with an increased risk of aortic aneurysm and dissection, with “Risk of Aortic Dissection and Aortic Aneurysm in Patients Taking Oral Fluoroquinolone” concluding that:

“Use of fluoroquinolones was associated with an increased risk of aortic aneurysm and dissection. While these were rare events, physicians should be aware of this possible drug safety risk associated with fluoroquinolone therapy.”

Both “Risk of Aortic Dissection and Aortic Aneurysm in Patients Taking Oral Fluoroquinolone” and “Fluoroquinolones and collagen associated severe adverse events: a longitudinal cohort study” are major studies, with “analysis of 1477 case patients and 147 700 matched control cases from Taiwan’s National Health Insurance Research Database (NHIRD) from among 1 million individuals longitudinally observed from January 2000 through December 2011” for the former, and 1.7 million older adults in Ontario, Canada, for the later. They are robust studies that show a statistically significant association between fluoroquinolone-use and aortic aneurysm and dissection.

Still, the FDA doesn’t acknowledge that there is a connection between fluoroquinolone-use and these potentially deadly disorders.

Before you defend the FDA by saying something like, “correlation doesn’t mean causation,” or, “an association doesn’t prove anything,” think about what it would take to do a study that would actually show a causal link between fluoroquinolones and aortic dissection and aneurysm–researchers would have to intentionally expose a group of people who they knew were at-risk for aortic dissection and/or aneurysm to Cipro, and another group of people who presumably had an infection to a placebo, then see whether or not they were hurt or died from the exposure. You can’t do this experiment on humans for fairly obvious reasons.

However, you can do the experiment with mice, and a team of researchers from Baylor College of Medicine, the Texas Heart Institute, and Baylor College of Medicine’s Cardiovascular Research Institute, “found that ciprofloxacin, a widely prescribed antibiotic, increases the risk of tears and rupture on the main artery of the body, the aorta, in a mouse model of human aortic aneurysms and dissections (AAD), a disease that carries high risk of death from aortic rupture.” (source) The study showed that:

“normal, unstressed mice treated with ciprofloxacin did not show significant negative effects on the aorta. In mice with moderately stressed aortas that had received the placebo, 45 percent developed AAD, 24 percent developed aortic dissection and none had rupture. On the other hand, 79 percent of the mice with moderately stressed aortas that received antibiotic developed AAD, 67 percent had aortic dissection, and 15 percent had fatal rupture. These results were similar in males and females.” (source)

Though mice with normal aortas weren’t negatively affected by the Cipro exposure, those with stressed aortas were harmed–some fatally. These results, combined with the human population-based longitudinal cohort studies noted above, show, as strongly as we can without subjecting humans to unethical experiments, that fluoroquinoloes (or at least Cipro), increase the risk of aortic aneurysm and dissection in those with previously stressed aortas.

To further their case that fluoroquinolone-use led to aortic aneurysm and dissection, the Baylor researchers also explored the mechanism(s) through which Cipro/ciprofloxacin damages the extracellular matrix, and contributes to the weakening of aortic tissues:

“The researchers then looked deeper into the effects of ciprofloxacin on mouse aortas searching for insights into the antibiotic’s mechanism of action. Compared with the aortas from stressed mice treated with the placebo, the aortic tissue of stressed mice treated with the antibiotic showed more destruction and fragmentation of elastic fibers; decreased activity of LOX, a key enzyme involved in stabilizing the extracellular matrix; increased activity of MMP enzymes involved in extracellular matrix degradation; and enhanced activation of cellular pathways that lead to cell death. Separate laboratory experiments on human aortic smooth muscle cells revealed that sustained ciprofloxacin exposure reduced the expression of LOX while enhancing the expression of MMP and inducing cell death. In these experimental settings, the antibiotic is disrupting the natural processes that maintain the integrity of the extracellular matrix that is essential for normal aortic function.” (source)

Links to studies that show that fluoroquinolones increase expression of damaging MMP enzymes, as well as oxidative stress, can be found in the posts, “Fluoroquinolones Increase Expression of MMPs” and “Antioxidant Depletion by Fluoroquinolones.

The evidence that fluoroquinolones increase the chance of aortic aneurysm and dissection in succeptible individuals is significant. The large population-based studies are compelling, the mouse study establishes a stronger causal link, and many studies that show the damaging effects of fluoroquinolones on cell, collagen, and extracellular matrix, health, each add weight to the argument that fluoroquinolones are contributing to potentially deadly aortic aneurysm and dissections. Yet, the FDA is still claiming that studies don’t support a connection. I’m not sure what else they need in order to convince them that aortic aneurysm and dissection are, indeed, linked to fluoroquinolones. The evidence seems strong and compelling to me, and I suspect that they are just wrong.

Additionally supporting the link between fluoroquinolones and aortic aneurysm and dissection are personal testimonials of connections and damage done. In comments on the post, “Hurt by a Generic Drug? Victims have no Recourse unless the FDA Changes Rules,” published on hormonesmatter.com, one person noted that:

“I took a generic levaquin, a week or so later I had an aortic dissection. It was descending so it was not fixed by surgery. I now have an aortic aneurysm. The tear is pasted together with blood clots. A CT scan every 6 mos to check the size of the aneurysm. Keep my bp below 120.”

Another responded that:

“Took generic Leviquin 7 weeks later aortic dissection. Tore 2 layers of muscle from over my aortic valve down thru and ended in my thighs. Doctor said I would not survive operation. Tear was so big over the valve had to put in synthetic patch.”

In testimony to the FDA, Sherry Reiver stated:

“Four years ago today, my 93 year old dad died. He FELL at home and was taken to the hospital by a neighbor. By the time my husband and I arrived in Florida, my dad had no idea who we were. They THOUGHT he had pneumonia so they IV’d him with Levaquin. It turned out that he did NOT have pneumonia but he continued to hallucinate for 6 weeks and then died. He was sharp as a tack before Levaquin dripped into his body. He did have an aortic aneurysm for many years which was being watched but it ruptured on November 4th. I would have never connected the AA with FQs until I read this research paper dated October 5th 2015. So here is another RARE side effect that can occur, which it did in my dad’s case. How many others have died from AAs and had taken a FQ drug?”

There is significant evidence that fluoroquinolones contributed to these aortic aneurysms and dissections, as well as those of thousands of other patients. These patients weren’t warned that fluoroquinolones could increase their chances of aortic aneurysm or dissection, and they haven’t had the opportunity to gain retribution or justice, in part because the FDA has failed to acknowledge the connection between fluoroquinolones and aortic aneurysm and dissection.

With the publishing of the Baylor mouse study, I hope that the FDA will acknowledge the connection between fluoroquinolone use and aortic aneurysm and dissection. I also hope that acknowledgement from the FDA will lead to justice for victims, and pain for the pharmaceutical company perpetrators who produce and market these dangerous drugs.

Also, all of the studies that connect fluoroquinolones to aortic aneurysm and dissection are greatly appreciated, and I want to thank all of the researchers and scientists who conducted the studies, as well as those who fund them. Research into adverse drug reactions, and patient safety, are important. All of the researchers and scientists who look into adverse drug reactions, especially fluoroquinolone reactions, are appreciated, and I thank them sincerely.





Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Article – Treatment of the Fluoroquinolone Associated Disability – the pathobiochemical implications

I’m so excited to share this article, “Treatment of the Fluoroquinolone Associated Disability – the pathobiochemical implications” by Krzysztof Michalak, Aleksandra Sobolewska-Wlodarczyk, Marcin Włodarczyk, Justyna Sobolewska, Piotr Woźniak, and Bogusław Sobolewski, with you! It is the first article of its kind that I’ve seen. While there are thousands of articles about fluoroquinolones, many of which focus on the damaging effects of fluoroquinolones, and many case-studies that note the adverse-effects of fluoroquinolones (hundreds of articles about fluoroquinolones are linked HERE), this is the first article that acknowledges that fluoroquinolone toxicity (referred to as both Fluoroquinolone Associated Disability (FQAD) and fluoroquinolone toxicity throughout the article) is a disabling syndrome, that also goes over the mechanisms by which fluoroquinolones can cause fluoroquinolone toxicity/FQAD, and even gives recommendations on how to treat fluoroquinolone toxicity/FQAD (while also acknowledging that there are no cures or verified treatments). The article even calls for more extensive research to be done into fluoroquinolone toxicity, and the various mechanisms through which fluoroquinolones hurt people.

It is an enlightening article, and I encourage you to print it out and give it to your doctors, family members, and anyone else who is interested in what fluoroquinolones do and how they hurt people. In this post, I’m going to go over some highlights from the article, but I recommend that you read it yourself (you can access it through THIS LINK, after clicking on the “provisional pdf” link).

The first paragraph of the abstract to the article states:

“Long term Fluoroquinolone Associated Disability (FQAD) after fluoroquinolone (FQ) antibiotic therapy appears in recent years a significant medical and social problem, because patients suffer for many years after prescribed antimicrobial FQ-treatment from tiredness, concentration problems, neuropathies, tendinopathies and other symptoms. The knowledge about the molecular activity of FQs in the cells remains unclear in many details. The effective treatment of this chronic state remains difficult and not effective. The current paper reviews the pathobiochemical properties of FQs, hints the directions for further research and reviews the research concerning the proposed treatment of patients.”

To see that in writing, in an academic article, is incredibly validating.

Adverse Effects of Fluoroquinolones

Treatment of the Fluoroquinolone Associated Disability – the pathobiochemical implications, goes over the documented effects of fluoroquinolones. For tendinopathies and tendon ruptures, researchers have found that:

“FQs are associated with an increased risk of tendinitis and tendon rupture. This risk is further increased in those over age 60, in kidney, heart, and lung transplant recipients, and with use of concomitant steroid therapy.”

Fluoroquinolones cause neurotoxicity, as well as central and peripheral nervous system ailments:

“Taking FQs is associated with their neurotoxicity, as well [5-8]. The main symptoms being correlated to FQ treatment include insomnia, restlessness, and rarely, seizure, convulsions, and psychosis [9-11]. Many reports point to chronic persistent peripheral neuropathy to be generated by FQs [12-18]. Cohen et al. [19] showed that a possible association between FQ and severe, long-term adverse effects involving the peripheral nervous system as well as other organ systems are observed.

Fluoroquinolones also cause cardiotoxicity and an elongation of the QT interval, as well as hepatotoxicity and nephrotoxicity. Fluoroquinolone use has even been linked to type-2 diabetes onset.

Fluoroquinolone toxicity / FQAD is a multi-symptom, chronic illness that affects all body systems. Fluoroquinolones deleteriously affect every muscle, tendon, ligament, nerve, and even bone, in the body. They damage every cell in the body.

Fluoroquinolone Damage Mechanisms

Treatment of the Fluoroquinolone Associated Disability – the pathobiochemical implications, notes the various mechanisms by which fluoroquinolones cause cellular (mitochondrial) damage, including oxidative stress, and the downstream effects of oxidative stress, including disruptions in the mitochondrial Permeability Transition Pore (PTP) (and the article authors state, “The influence of FQs on the detailed regulation of PTP is the urgent topic for further research.”), Calcium and magnesium homeostasis, lowered ATP production, and more.

Here is a diagram of the mechanisms of fluoroquinolone toxicity (published in the article):

Figure 2. The main ways of FQ toxicity. The positive regulatory loops magnifying the toxicity of FQs are marked with ‘+’. The ‘?’ signs denote the possible but not confirmed effects of FQ toxicity.

The article also notes the epigenetic effects of fluoroquinolones and oxidative stress:

“Beside OS (oxidative stress), epigenetic effects of FQs are of high importance, as well. The epigenetic effects may depend on the methylation of DNA and/or histones, however, ROS contribute also to epigenetic changes [42]. Some authors point also to the similarity of bacterial and mitochondrial DNA, both existing in circular super-twisted helices and gyrase-like enzymes being postulated to be responsible for the organization of mitochondrial DNA, suggesting the possible direct effect of FQs to mitochondrial DNA leading to the disturbed mitochondria regeneration and division [43, 44]. The changes in the cytoskeleton were observed also after FQ treatment [45] and cytoskeleton has been demonstrated to be strictly connected with energy dissipation and organization in mitochondria [46-49].”

Treatment of the Fluoroquinolone Associated Disability – the pathobiochemical implications, also notes that fluoroquinolones chelate various minerals and metals. The article notes that, “Seedher’s results indicate that chelation formation with bivalent metals can cause significant alterations in the human serum-FQ binding affinity.” The article also describes how fluoroquinolones chelate iron, zinc, magnesium, and other minerals, and how this chelation can have enzymatic and even epigenetic adverse effects.

Fluoroquinolones are GABA antagonists, and the effects of fluoroquinolones are similar to those of benzodiazepine withdrawal. The authors of Treatment of the Fluoroquinolone Associated Disability – the pathobiochemical implications, describe a potential mechanism through which GABA is depleted by fluoroquinolones:

“One of the proteins which can support PTP opening is Translator Protein (TSPO), called also peripheral-type benzodiazepine receptor or isoquinoline binding protein. TSPO is predominantly located on the surface of the mitochondria where it is postulated to physically associate with VDAC-ANT. It has been suggested that TSPO may activate PTP opening, causing ∆Ψm reduction and leading to apoptosis [80, 81]. Some authors suggest that epileptogenic activity of FQs possibly relates to GABA-like structure of some FQs which may allow them to act as GABA antagonists [82, 83]. Since TSPO is also a benzodiazepine receptor, similar interaction may maybe also take place between FQs and TSPO leading to opening PTP.”

I have always wondered how GABA inhibition is connected to mitochondrial destruction. The article excerpt above answers that question for me.

Fluoroquinolones can lead to chronic illness and permanent disability, which has led many people to question whether or not they remain in the body for an extended period of time (or, if they do damage while they’re in the body that continues long after the drug has left the body). The authors of Treatment of the Fluoroquinolone Associated Disability – the pathobiochemical implications note that:

“The other important feature of FQs has been presented by V.T. Andrioleet al. [55]. Namely, they estimated the minimum solubility of FQs in neutral pH. They pointed that this class of molecules is characterized by very high melting point, generally >200°C, which indicates that the crystal forms are very stable. All these FQ features strongly support the thesis that FQs can survive in the cell for a long time contributing to chronic, long-term adverse reaction in patients treated with FQs. The question, to what extent takes this phenomenon place and if it contributes to chronic symptoms of FQAD, remains unclear.”

It is acknowledged throughout the article that it is unknown whether or not fluoroquinolones stay in the body for an extended period of time. It is possible, through the mechanism noted above, but no hypotheses about fluoroquinolones remaining in the body after they “should” have been metabolized and fully excreted, have been explored. It’s both possible that they remain in cells, and that they don’t – no one really knows.

The article authors repeatedly call for additional research into the various mechanisms by which fluoroquinolones lead to pain, disability, and chronic illness:

“Summing up, the number of enzymes possessing reduced activity due to their ion-cofactor chelation is probably long and it is the important topic for further research. The separate problem consists the chronicity of ion-chelation by FQs. The presented research does not describe the chronic state of FQAD but the phenomena taking place during FQ application. It must be analyzed, to which degree persistent ion chelation takes place at FQAD patients.”

Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Treatment

Treatment of the Fluoroquinolone Associated Disability – the pathobiochemical implications is the first article I’ve seen that discusses the treatment of fluoroquinolone toxicity as a multi-symptom, chronic illness. The authors note that the first step in approaching a treatment is to discover why fluoroquinolones are causing chronic illness in the first place. Effective treatment, of course, depends on effective identification of the problem. With that noted, the article authors have enough knowledge to make a few suggestions:

“Until detailed knowledge concerning FQ toxicity would be recognized, the following directions in supporting FQAD patients are proposed according to the known and probable mechanisms of FQ toxicity: A. reduction of the oxidative stress; B. restoring reduced mitochondrial potential ∆Ψm; C. supplementation of uni- and bivalent cations that are chelated by FQs;D. supporting the mitochondrial replication in the cell – pulling the more destroyed to apoptosis and proliferation of the more healthy ones; E. removing FQs permanently accumulated in the cells (if this phenomenon takes place); F. regulating the disturbed epigenetics and enzyme activities”

The article authors note that antioxidant supplementation is a broad topic and that fixing the damage done by fluoroquinolones and oxidative stress is not as simple as just ingesting an antioxidant pill. However, antioxidant supplements that specifically target the mitochondria have shown some promising results:

“The antioxidants which enter easily the mitochondria are the most interesting ones. Lowes et al. [79] shows that the mitochondria targeted antioxidant MitoQ protects against fluoroquinolone-induced oxidative stress and mitochondrial membrane damage in human Achilles tendon cells. In cells treated with MitoQ the oxidative stress was lower and mitochondrial membrane potential was maintained.”

Other antioxidants have also had promising results in repairing fluoroquinolone treated cells. Some of the antioxidants with promising results include N-acetylcysteine, resveratrol, as well as Vitamins C and E. Supplementation of the trace minerals that are important cofactors for antioxidants is also important.


I greatly appreciate the authors of Treatment of the Fluoroquinolone Associated Disability – the pathobiochemical implications. They approach fluoroquinolone toxicity/FQAD as a complex and multifaceted illness. It IS a complex and multifaceted illness, and it is refreshing to read an article that doesn’t over-simplify or downplay the illness. I also appreciate the exploration of what is currently known about fluoroquinolone toxicity/FQAD, and the assertions that more research into fluoroquinolone toxicity is needed (it is!). I think that everyone who is going through fluoroquinolone toxicity/FQAD should read it, and share it as widely as possible.




Fluoroquinolone Antibiotics Increase Risk of Birth Defects

A few years ago, a friend from high school who was in her second trimester of pregnancy with her second child, reached out to me to ask me what antibiotics she should avoid. She had pneumonia, and was on her way to the doctor’s office. I told her that she should steer clear fluoroquinolones (Cipro/ciprofloxacin, Levaquin/levofloxacin, Avelox/moxifloxacin, and Floxin/ofloxacin).

Being an empowered and skeptical person, my friend didn’t just take my word for it that fluoroquinolones were dangerous, she did her own research and noted that the warning label for Cipro/ciprofloxacin stated:

Pregnancy Category C There are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. CIPRO should not be used during pregnancy unless the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to both fetus and mother. An expert review of published data on experiences with ciprofloxacin use during pregnancy by TERIS–the Teratogen Information System–concluded that therapeutic doses during pregnancy are unlikely to pose a substantial teratogenic risk (quantity and quality of data=fair), but the data are insufficient to state that there is no risk.2

With that information in-hand, she was empowered to adamantly refuse the prescription for Cipro that her doctor wanted to give her, and instead insisted that she get a prescription for a safer antibiotic (a pregnancy category B antibiotic).

I was relieved beyond words when she told me that she had refused the Cipro prescription. She wasn’t going to get floxed, and whatever effects the Cipro may have had on her baby were avoided.

Study Indicates that Fluoroquinolones May Increase Risk of Birth Defects

A recent study in the British Journal of Pharmacology, “Use of antibiotics during pregnancy and the risk of major congenital malformations: a population based cohort study” has shown that, “antibiotics in the class called quinolones — ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin and others — are particularly dangerous and should be avoided in pregnancy.”

The study, which “followed 139,938 mothers of babies born in Quebec from 1998 to 2008, tracking their antibiotic use in the first trimester, and their babies’ birth defects through the first year of life” found that:

Moxifloxacin exposure was associated with a 5-fold increased risk of respiratory system malformations and ofloxacin use with an 8-fold increased risk of MCMs. However, these results should be interpreted with caution given the small number of exposed cases.

Teratogenicity of quinolone has been reported in the literature in animal and experimental studies [50, 51]. Indeed, quinolones can act as DNA gyrase inhibitors and also as mitotic inhibitors [52]. This may partially damage DNA and induce fetal malformation, which supports our findings [52].

The other antibiotics examined were also more dangerous during pregnancy than I think any pregnant woman should feel comfortable with, but fluoroquinolones were found to be particularly dangerous.

Too Many Pregnant Women are Prescribed Fluoroquinolone Antibiotics

My friend had a healthy son, and he is now a happy and healthy toddler. She took antibiotics (but not fluoroquinolone antibiotics) during pregnancy, but her son was not negatively affected.

My friend was fortunate. However, most pregnant women don’t have a high school friend who incessantly posts about the dangers of fluoroquinolones, and many of them take fluoroquinolones during pregnancy without being aware of the risks these drugs pose to them or their babies. Doctors who prescribe fluoroquinolones to pregnant women, when there are safer alternative antibiotics, are endangering women and children, and there is nothing okay about that.


New York Times, “Certain Antibiotics May Increase Risk of Birth Defects

British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, “Use of antibiotics during pregnancy and the risk of major congenital malformations: a population based cohort study




Researching Cures for Fluoroquinolone Toxicity

Several people have recently asked me if I know of anyone who is researching cures for fluoroquinolone toxicity. The short answer is, no, unfortunately, I don’t know of any individuals, institutions, or organizations that are working to find a cure for fluoroquinolone toxicity.

The longer answer is a bit more complex and nuanced.

In order to get doctors and scientists to do research into curing fluoroquinolone toxicity, fluoroquinolone toxicity first has to be recognized. In the five years that I have been involved with the “floxie” community, we have come a long way in getting fluoroquinolone toxicity recognized, and the 2016 announcement from the FDA that the fluoroquinolone warning labels are going to be changed to note that their risks outweigh their benefits for many common infections is a HUGE step in the right direction. The thousands of people who have shared their fluoroquinolone toxicity stories on social media, in the news media, and who have reported their reaction to the FDA, have all helped to get people to recognize that fluoroquinolone toxicity is real, and that it’s a multi-symptom, often chronic, sometimes disabling, syndrome. Recognition that the problem exists is a necessary first step, and we are definitely making progress in getting fluoroquinolone toxicity recognized.

After recognition of the problem, scientists and doctors must figure out the mechanism through which fluoroquinolones cause damage before they can start looking for a cure. This, unfortunately, is another big roadblock. There are more than 200 journal articles about the effects of fluoroquinolones on the Links & Resources page of this site. These journal articles note that fluoroquinolones damage mitochondrial DNA, downgrade GABA, deplete magnesium and iron, cause liver and kidney damage, increase oxidative stress, deplete antioxidants, disrupt the endocrine system, activate mast cells, and more. (These possibilities are discussed in more depth in the post, What is Fluoroquinolone Toxicity?) There are so many ways in which fluoroquinolones cause damage, that it is difficult to determine where to start looking for a solution. The hypothesis–fluoroquinolones damage EVERYTHING–isn’t particularly testable or useful, even if it is true. Perhaps though, a cure that focuses on one of the systems that fluoroquinolones damage can help some (maybe most) people through fluoroquinolone toxicity.

There are people and organizations that are focusing on finding cures for some aspect of fluoroquinolone toxicity. For example, there are many companies that are trying to improve mitochondrial function through supplements and diets. MitoQ, K-PAX, Bulletproof, and many other supplement companies have mitochondrial support products, and doctor Terry Wahls notes the importance of mitochondrial health in The Wahls Protocol. People who are searching for a cure for ME/CFS, fibromyalgia, autoimmune diseases, autism, neurodegenerative diseases, and congenital mitochondrial diseases are focusing on mitochondria, and their findings may help floxies too. Additionally, supplements, diets, exercises, and other methods that support vagus nerve function may help floxies as well as the people who are suffering from POTS, autoimmune diseases, mast cell activation, histamine intolerance, and other forms of autonomic nervous system dysfunction. People who are going through benzodiazepine withdrawal know a lot about downgraded GABA neurotransmitters, and perhaps the information that they have can help floxies to deal with the GABA aspects of fluoroquinolone toxicity. Also, things that help people to deal with diabetes-induced peripheral neuropathy may also help people with fluoroquinolone-induced peripheral neuropathy. The makers of these supplements, diets, etc. aren’t focusing on fluoroquinolone toxicity, but in focusing on other diseases that are similar to fluoroquinolone toxicity, they may stumble on answers for floxies as well. I suspect that a cure for fluoroquinolone toxicity will come through people looking for cures for other, more widely recognized and accepted, diseases. It would be nice if concerted effort was given to fluoroquinolone toxicity specifically, but if a cure comes via research into another disease, that’s fine too.

TOL19-001/Cicatendon for Tendon Repair

The only study I’ve seen that focused on repairing damage done by fluoroquinolones is TOL19-001 reduces inflammation and MMP expression in monolayer cultures of tendon cells. It’s an interesting study that I highly recommend to all my floxed friends. Yes, it is a study that is related to the company that produces the supplement studied, so it’s not without bias, but it’s interesting and relevant none-the-less. The article focuses on fluoroquinolone-induced tendon destruction, which is one of the most well-documented effects of fluoroquinolones. It goes over a mechanism through which fluoroquinolones cause tendon destruction–

“This family of drugs (fluoroquinolones) is, indeed, known to induce tendon lesions in vivo [33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40] by causing matrix disruption, inflammation, and degenerative changes of tenocytes [37, 41]. In this study, we showed that CIP (ciprofloxacin) affects tendon cells, including inhibition of cell proliferation (data not shown), increased expression of p65 NFkB subunits and MMPs (at least at mRNA level).”

It also is noted that:

“Here, we propose that the association of spirulina, glucosamine sulfate, ginseng, selenium, sillicium, iron, vitamin E and zinc (TOL19-001, marketed as Cicatendon®, LABRHA Laboratory, Lyon, France) may have a beneficial effect on tendon healing and repair.”

The article goes over a lot of technical information about MMPs and how the TOL19-001/Cicatendon and its ingredients may help to repair fluoroquinolone-damaged tendons, and, again, I recommend that you all read it.

I have only heard from one friend who has tried the TOL19-001/Cicatendon, and she reported that it helped (but I wouldn’t say “cured”) her. I have not personally tried TOL19-001/Cicatendon, but I have tried many of its ingredients as individual supplements, and many of them helped me through fluoroquinolone toxicity.

TOL19-001/Cicatendon certainly seems promising for tendon repair, even if it doesn’t address the other issues having to do with fluoroquinolone toxicity. I don’t think that we can call it a “cure” but perhaps it is progress. At the very least, it is a study that looked at repairing the damage caused by fluoroquinolones, and I would certainly call THAT progress.

I hope that more supplement companies take a look at fluoroquinolones, and research how their products may help to repair some of the damage done by fluoroquinolones. Though independent research from academics is perceived more positively than research sponsored by supplement companies, I think that supplement companies are more likely to be willing and able to invest in fluoroquinolone toxicity studies than universities currently are, and I’m grateful to any individual or institution that is looking for a cure for this horrible toxicity syndrome.

One more thing…

Not to toot my own horn, but floxiehope.com focuses on healing, and finding a cure, for fluoroquinolone toxicity. The recovery stories don’t contain any “magic bullets,” but they do contain methods for recovery that many people have used. I think that the information in the recovery stories is valuable and useful. Though there isn’t a “cure” at this time, there is recovery, and I think that realizing that is a big step in the right direction.

Also, The Quinolone Vigilance Foundation (QVF) is working with scientists to research fluoroquinolone toxicity, and a cure may come from that. Their work is greatly appreciated!

And, The Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Solution, is a good guide that has helped many people.

We all wish that we had a magic bullet cure. Maybe one day. For right now, we can use what we have, and hope for more research to come.

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Study Finds that Ciprofloxacin Depletes Mitochondrial DNA

DNA replication fluoroquinolone Topoisomerase Interrupter

This post contains quotes from the article “Delayed Cytotoxicity and Cleavage of Mitochondrial DNA in Ciprofloxacin-Treated Mammalian Cells” that was published in Molecular Pharmacology in 1996.  It’s a good article.  It’s an interesting and damning article.  It’s a difficult article.  It would be nice if more people read it, and I wish that its implications were better understood and explored by research scientists and regular people alike.

Direct quotes from the article are in bold and italicized.  My commentary follows each quote.

“The loss in mtDNA was associated with a delayed loss in mitochondrial function. Here, we report that the 4-quinolone drug ciprofloxacin is cytotoxic to a variety of cultured mammalian cell lines at concentrations that deplete cells of mtDNA.”

Ciprofloxacin depletes mitochondrial DNA in mammalian cells.  It’s right there in black and white.  I have no idea why it didn’t strike anyone as alarming when it was published in 1996.  It sure is alarming now.

It should be noted that, “There is indeed experimental evidence that prolonged injury to mitochondria, such as that which typifies oxidative injury to mitochondrial DNA or to components of the electron transport chain (ETC), has to cross a certain threshold (or a number of thresholds) before cell damage or cell death becomes manifest.” (source)  And that mitochondrial damage is linked to “symptoms such as fatigue, muscle pain, shortness of breath, and abdominal pain can easily be mistaken for collagen vascular disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, or psychosomatic illness.” (source)  Mitochondrial dysfunction has been linked to multiple diseases of modernity including autoimmune diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, autism and “mysterious” diseases such as fibromyalgia and ME/CFS.

Also, as I’ve pointed out before, the FDA has noted in their internal documents that fluoroquinolones are toxic to mitochondria, and that mitochondrial damage is linked to many diseases, including neurodegenerative diseases.  More information about that can be found in the post, “FLUOROQUINOLONE ANTIBIOTICS DAMAGE MITOCHONDRIA – FDA DOES LITTLE

“Resistance was not due to a decrease in cellular drug accumulation, suggesting that ciprofloxacin cytotoxicity is caused by the loss of mtDNA-encoded functions.  Analysis of mtDNA from ciprofloxacin-treated cells revealed the presence of site-specific, double-stranded DNA breaks.”

Consequences?  Implications?  What happens when cytotoxicity is induced by DNA breaks?

“These results suggest that ciprofloxacin may be causing cytotoxicity by interfering with a mitochondrial topoisomerase Il-like activity, resulting in a loss of mtDNA.”

Many assert that fluoroquinolones only affect bacterial topoisomerases.  It turns out that mitochondrial topoisomerases are affected too.  Fluoroquinolones should be used as prudently and cautiously as all other topoisomerase interrupting drugs.  All the other topoisomerase interrupting drugs are chemo drugs that are only used to treat cancers.  To prescribe a drug that depletes mitochondrial DNA and affects human topoisomerases in order to treat urinary tract infections and traveler’s diarrhea is absurd, short-sighted and wrong.

It should also be noted that, “Our data suggest that chemicals or genetic mutations that impair topoisomerases, and possibly other components of the transcription elongation machinery that interface with topoisomerases, have the potential to profoundly affect expression of long ASD (autism spectrum disorder) candidate genes. Length-dependent impairment of gene transcription, particularly in neurons and during critical periods of brain development, may thus represent a unifying cause of pathology in many individuals with ASD and other neurodevelopmental disorders.” (source)

The team of scientists who wrote that last quote are looking at whether or not fluoroquinolones turn on genes that are related to autism.  The results of their exploration have not yet been published.

What is known though, is that topoisomerases are really important.  Duh–they’re the enzymes responsible for proper DNA and RNA replication—did someone think they were optional?  Interrupting topoisomerases with drugs is a really, really, really bad idea.

“Studies have also suggested that 4-quinolones may interfere with cell growth by inhibiting mammalian mtDNA replication (6, 11). Castora et al. (11) found that the 4-quinolone drugs nalidixic acid and oxolinic acid inhibited mtDNA replication in isolated rat liver mitochondria. These investigators inferred that this effect might be mediated by the inhibition of a mitochondrial topoisomerase II activity related to the bacterial enzyme DNA gyrase.”

Naladixic acid is the backbone of all fluoroquinolone antibiotics.  The quote speaks for itself.

 “We recently demonstrated that the 4-quinolone drugs nalidixic acid and ciprofloxacin cause a selective loss of mtDNA in drug-treated mammalian cells (6). The loss of mtDNA was associated with a decrease in mitochondrial respiration and an arrest in cell growth. These results suggested that inhibition of mammalian cell proliferation by 4-quinolone drugs might be caused by the selective depletion of mtDNA, resulting in compromised mitochondrial activity. We now report that ciprofloxacin causes a delayed cytotoxicity in cultured mammalian cells at concentrations that deplete cells of mtDNA.”

DELAYED CYTOTOXICITY!  When someone says that you “shouldn’t” be experiencing an adverse reaction to a fluoroquinolone weeks, months or even years after you took the drug, show them this.  Delayed cytotoxicity and mtDNA depletion–they’re right there.  Fluoroquinolones are NASTY drugs.  Why they are used frivolously is beyond my comprehension.

“We previously demonstrated that ciprofloxacin induces a selective depletion of mtDNA in mammalian cells. The depletion of mtDNA preceded a decrease in mitochondrial respiration and cell growth, suggesting that mtDNA was a primary target of drug action (6). Studies have recently shown that some cultured mammalian and avian cells can survive in the absence of mtDNA-encoded functions if the growth medium is supplemented with pyrimidines, pyruvate, and elevated concentrations of glucose (21-23). Cells deficient in mtDNA rely exclusively on glycolysis for energy.”

Hmmmmm…. So do our cells need/want more glucose??

And, again, I’d like to point out the clearly stated, “ciprofloxacin induces a selective depletion of mtDNA in mammalian cells.”


“The apparent decrease in mtDNA cleavage at higher drug concentrations is reminiscent of the effect of DNA intercalating anticancer drugs on nuclear topoisomerase II enzymes (29, 30). Intercalating anticancer drugs such as 2-methyl-9-hydroxyellipticinium and Adriamycin have been shown to stimulate topoisomerase II cleavage at low concentrations but inhibit cleavage at high drug concentrations.”

Fluoroquinolones are chemo drugs.  All topoisomerase interrupters are chemo drugs.  Don’t give people chemo drugs to treat sinus infections.  It’s not a difficult notion.



“The non-exonuclease-treated DNA contained both linear and nicked circular forms of mtDNA but did not contain closed circular supercoiled mtDNA (Fig. 8, lane A), suggesting that ciprofloxacin induces single- as well as double stranded protein-linked breaks in the mtDNA.”

Thanks for breaking my DNA, Bayer.

“The current results indicate that ciprofloxacin is not cytotoxic unless cells are continuously exposed to drug for a minimum of three or four cell doublings. In comparison, drugs that target nuclear topoisomerase II trigger an apoptotic type of cell killing, even after a short 2-hr drug exposure.”

Interesting.  What is the time-frame for cell doubling?  And I don’t think that the question has been definitively answered as to whether or not fluoroquinolones are stored in lipids, continuously exposing cells to damage, or not.

“Another possibility is that the growth inhibitory and cytotoxic effects of ciprofloxacin are caused by the inhibition of an essential mitochondrial function or functions. This is supported by the following observations: First, treatment of mammalian cells with ciprofloxacin results in a selective depletion of mtDNA, leading to a decrease in mitochondrial respiration (6). These mitochondrial events precede the drug induced loss in cell growth and viability (Ref. 6 and current results). Second, cells become resistant to ciprofloxacin when they are grown under conditions that do not require mtDNA encoded functions. Third, ciprofloxacin induces the formation of site-specific, protein-linked breaks in mtDNA, indicating the presence of a drug-sensitive mitochondrial topoisomerase Il-like activity.”

Given the connections between ciprofloxacin and mitochondrial damage–depleting mtDNA and decreasing mitochondrial respiration, and the connections between mitochondrial damage and multiple chronic, multi-symptom illnesses, it is not absurd to make the assertion that ciprofloxacin, and other fluoroquinolones, can cause those diseases (autoimmune diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, fibromyaligia, autism, ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, etc.).

The article, “Mitochondria Resuscitation: The Key to Healing Every Disease” by Chris D. Meletis, N.D. is a succinct and illustrative look at how mitochondria are related to multiple areas of health.

It’s nice and dandy that “cells become resistant to ciprofloxacin when they are grown under conditions that do not require mtDNA encoded functions” but human beings don’t have a bunch of cells that live in petri dishes that can grow without requiring our mitochondrial DNA functions.  I wonder what happens when human cells attempt to adapt to resist ciprofloxacin and adapt by ceasing to require mtDNA encoded functions.  I bet you a buck that no one knows the answer to that question.

Cipro breaks mitochondrial DNA.  WHY WASN’T THIS REPORT PAID ATTENTION TO?  All of the results in it warrant fluoroquinolones being taken off of the market until further investigation can be done.  This is absurd.  I know that there are cases where fluoroquinolones can save lives, I get that, and I’m usually decently reasonable about not calling for their removal from the market.  But this article spooked me severely.  We, collectively, have NO CLUE what the consequences of depleting our mitochondrial DNA are.

“Neither cell growth nor viability seems to be affected until cells have undergone three or four cell doublings in the presence of ciprofloxacin (Ref. 6 and current results). During this time span, the content of mtDNA decreases >90%, suggesting that drug is causing a loss in cell growth and viability by interfering with mtDNA replication.”

Nasty drugs – but if you metabolize them fast enough, they’re less nasty – apparently.

“Ciprofloxacin, as well as several other 4-quinolone drugs, can cause significant unwinding of DNA”

It’s what they’re designed to do.  They’re topoisomerase interrupters.  The mechanism of action for ciprofloxacin is, “The bactericidal action of ciprofloxacin results from inhibition of the enzymes topoisomerase II (DNA gyrase) and topoisomerase IV (both Type II topoisomerases), which are required for bacterial DNA replication, transcription, repair, and recombination.” (source)  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that drugs that inhibit the DNA and RNA replication, transcription, repair and recombination are dangerous.  I hate the FDA for allowing these dangerous drugs to be used as antibiotics.  It’s ludicrous.

Delayed Cytotoxicity and Cleavage of Mitochondrial DNA in Ciprofloxacin-Treated Mammalian Cells” is not a hopeful article.  It is, frankly, a terrifying article.  More than 20 million prescriptions for fluoroquinolones are given out in Americans each year for the last couple decades, and that’s only a small portion of the prescriptions given worldwide.  What have we done to our collective mitochondrial DNA??  What are the consequences of depleting our mitochondrial DNA?  No one knows the answers to those questions.

Anyone who thinks that people aren’t sick with the diseases related to mitochondrial poisoning, isn’t looking very hard.  People are sick.  They’re in pain (peripheral neuropathy is thought to be caused by mitochondrial malfunctions), they’re depressed and suffering from even worse psychiatric disorders, they have heart conditions and metabolic disorders (source), ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, autism, and many other misunderstood, chronic illnesses.  There are many potential culprits for the sorry state of human health in the 21st century, but fluoroquinolones aren’t even on the list according to most people.


I’ll keep screaming it until I’m heard.

Back in 1992 it was noted that, “the interaction (of fluoroquinolones) with DNA is still of great concern because of the possible long-term genotoxicity of quinolone compounds, which are increasingly adopted as first-choice antibiotics for the treatment of many infections, and because it addresses the real mechanism of action of this class of molecules.”  (source)

I really wish that these warnings had been heeded.  Sadly, they’ve been ignored.

Our poor mitochondrial DNA.  I hope that mtDNA recovers and that the situation isn’t as dire as I suspect.  But the truth is, no one knows.  No one has a clue what the consequences of depleting mtDNA through unnecessary use of topoisomerase interrupting drugs are.

Floxies certainly know that the consequences of fluoroquinolones can involve a massive amount of pain and suffering.  It’s not okay.

Bayer, Johnson & Johnson, the FDA and everyone else involved with frivolously prescribing these drugs should be ashamed of themselves for failing to protect our mitochondrial DNA.  Topoisomerase interrupters should never have been approved for use as antibiotics.  It’s simply absurd.

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