Tag Archives: topoisomerase interrupter

Are Damaged Mitochondria Causing Autoimmune Diseases?

Fluoroquinolone toxicity looks and feels a lot like multiple autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, MS, thyroid autoimmune diseases, and others. Some people have proposed that fluoroquinolone toxicity is its own autoimmune disease, but the auto-antibodies have not yet been identified and thus it is not treated as an independent autoimmune disease. In some people, fluoroquinolones have triggered a recognized autoimmune disease, as you can read about in Michelle’s Story of fluoroquinolone-induced lupus, JMR’s story of fluoroquinolone-induced thyroid autoimmune diseases, and I know a couple people with fluoroquinolone-induced MS.

I have always wondered what the connections are between fluoroquinolone toxicity and autoimmune diseases, whether or not fluoroquinolones are truly triggering autoimmune diseases generally, and what the mechanism is behind the connection.

A recent article in Scientific American, Brain’s Dumped DNA May Lead to Stress, Depression: New research suggests genetic material from the mitochondria can trigger an immune response throughout the body provides some interesting connections (and, dare I say, answers). The article points out that mitochondrial DNA, when it is released from mitochondria, can cause inflammation and an immune response:

“But how was this inflammation triggered by mitochondrial DNA leaking out of cells? A 2010 Nature paper provided the answer: In it researchers demonstrated the way mitochondrial DNA, when released into the blood after an injury, mobilized a pro-inflammatory immune response. Because of mitochondria’s bacterial origin and its circular DNA structure, immune cells think it’s a foreign invader.  When circulating mitochondrial DNA binds to a particular receptor, TLR9, on immune cells, they respond as if they were reacting to a foreign invader such as a flu virus or an infected wound. The immune cells release chemicals called cytokines telling other white blood cells they need to report for duty at sites of infection, inflammation or trauma.”

Multiple studies have shown that fluoroquinolones disrupt the replication and reproduction cycles of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and deplete mtDNA. Of course they do – mitochondria are descendants of bacteria and drugs that affect bacterial DNA have similar effects on mtDNA. The way that fluoroquinolones work is that they disrupt the DNA and RNA replication cycles for bacteria (and mitochondria).

When mitochondrial DNA is released via fluoroquinolones (or a variety of other pharmaceuticals and environmental toxins that also damage mitochondria) the immune system attacks it because it appears to the immune system to be bacterial DNA. This attack of loose mtDNA can lead to an immune-system over-response, and even trigger an autoimmune disease.

The Scientific American article also notes that:

“The genetic cast-offs are not just inert cellular waste. “This circulating mitochondrial DNA acts like a hormone,” says Martin Picard, a psychobiologist at Columbia University, who has been studying mitochondrial behavior and the cell-free mitochondrial DNA for the better part of the last decade. Ejection of mitochondrial DNA from the cell mimics somewhat adrenal glands’ release of cortisol in response to stress, he says. Certain cells produce the circulating mitochondrial DNA and, as with the adrenal glands, its release is also triggered by stress.”

To emphasize – “circulating mitochondrial DNA acts like a hormone” that “mimics somewhat adrenal glands’ release of cortisol in response to stress.” So many people suffering from fluoroquinolone toxicity are in vicious cycles of chronic stress and anxiety that are wreaking further havoc on their health. The post, “Cellular Stress, Chronic Stress, and Fluoroquinolone Toxicity” goes into more detail about the connections between stress and anxiety and fluoroquinolone toxicity.

Fluoroquinolones aren’t the only toxins that damage mtDNA. The list of pharmaceuticals that damage mtDNA include all bactericidal antibiotics (including fluoroquinolones) (1), statins (2), chemotherapy drugs (3), acetaminophen (4), metformin (a diabetes drug) (5), and others. The environmental pollutants that have been shown to damage mitochondria include rotenone, cyanide, lipopolysaccharide, PAH quinones, arsenic, and many others (6).

I would bet quite a bit that the rise in autoimmune diseases corresponds with the rise in production of pharmaceuticals, pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals that are toxic to mitochondria. The Scientific American article, Brain’s Dumped DNA May Lead to Stress, Depression: New research suggests genetic material from the mitochondria can trigger an immune response throughout the body, provides some valuable connections that point in that direction, and I would love to see more research on the topic.





New Study Finds that Ciprofloxacin Depletes Mitochondrial DNA

An excellent article about the effects of ciprofloxacin (a fluoroquinolone antibiotic) on mitochondrial DNA was recently published in the journal, Nucleic Acids Research. The article, Ciprofloxacin impairs mitochondrial DNA replication initiation through inhibition of Topoisomerase 2, by Anu Hangas, Koit Aasumets, Nina J Kekäläinen, Mika Paloheinä, Jaakko L Pohjoismäki, Joachim M Gerhold, and Steffi Goffart, gives a great amount of insight into the damage that ciprofloxacin does to mitochondria, and I recommend that you read it (linked through the article title). I’m going to go over the article in this post, and point out some of the more interesting findings.

First, a bit of background information to help readers to understand the article.

Mitochondria are the energy centers of our cells. There are over ten million billion mitochondria in the human body (Lane p. 1). Each cell (with a few exceptions) contains an average of 300-400 mitochondria that are responsible for generating cellular energy through a process called ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate). Mitochondria regulate energy production, aging, epigenetic signaling between and within cells and many other important functions. Proper functioning of mitochondria is vital, and when mitochondria are not operating properly, a wide range of disease states can ensue (2).

Mitochondria have their own DNA (mtDNA) that is separate from (though it interacts with) nuclear DNA. The structure of mtDNA is similar to that of bacterial DNA, and it is widely thought that mitochondria descended from ancient bacteria. The similarities between bacteria and mitochondria should make everyone take pause to think about how antibiotics of all kinds are affecting mitochondrial health. This post, and the article that it is based on, only focuses on the effects of ciprofloxacin, a fluoroquinolone antibiotic, on mitochondrial health, but if you want to read about the effects of other antibiotics on mitochondria, the article “Bactericidal Antibiotics Induce Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Oxidative Damage in Mammalian Cells” is a great place to start.

There are enzymes in our cells called topoisomerases. According to the wikipedia article for topoisomerase:

Topoisomerases are enzymes that participate in the overwinding or underwinding of DNA. The winding problem of DNA arises due to the intertwined nature of its double-helical structure. During DNA replication and transcription, DNA becomes overwound ahead of a replication fork. If left unabated, this torsion would eventually stop the ability of DNA or RNA polymerases involved in these processes to continue down the DNA strand.

In order to prevent and correct these types of topological problems caused by the double helix, topoisomerases bind to DNA and cut the phosphate backbone of either one or both the DNA strands. This intermediate break allows the DNA to be untangled or unwound, and, at the end of these processes, the DNA backbone is resealed again. Since the overall chemical composition and connectivity of the DNA do not change, the DNA substrate and product are chemical isomers, differing only in their global topology, resulting in the name for these enzymes. Topoisomerases are isomerase enzymes that act on the topology of DNA.[1]

Bacterial topoisomerases and human topoisomerases proceed via similar mechanisms for managing DNA supercoils.

The mechanism of action for all fuoroquinolones is that they are topoisomerase interruptors. The FDA warning label for ciprofloxacin states that 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.”

Here is a video that describes how fluoroquinolones work, and how they interrupt topoisomerase and thus interrupt the process of bacterial (and mitochondrial, as we shall discuss below) DNA replication.

I have argued, and I believe, that EVERY drug that is a topoisomerase interruptor, should be thought of as a chemotherapy drug. All other topoisomerase interrupting drugs ARE chemo drugs. But fluoroquinolones are thought of as antibiotics, and handed out as if they are inconsequential. They are extremely consequential though, and they are hurting too many people. More information on fluoroquinolones being chemo drugs can be found in the post, “Cipro, Levaquin and Avelox are Chemo Drugs.”

Now to highlight some of the important parts of Ciprofloxacin impairs mitochondrial DNA replication initiation through inhibition of Topoisomerase 2.

The abstract of the article, Ciprofloxacin impairs mitochondrial DNA replication initiation through inhibition of Topoisomerase 2, notes that:

“Loss of Top2β or its inhibition by ciprofloxacin results in accumulation of positively supercoiled mtDNA, followed by cessation of mitochondrial transcription and replication initiation, causing depletion of mtDNA copy number. These mitochondrial effects block both cell proliferation and differentiation, possibly explaining some of the side effects associated with fluoroquinolone antibiotics.”

When you look into the multiple roles of mitochondria–from controlling cellular energy production to aging, and the links between mitochondrial damage and various multi-symptom chronic illnesses (from ME/CFS to autism to autoimmune diseases), yes, most definitely, the damaging effects of fluoroquinolones on mitochondria can certainly explain many, if not all, of the side effects associated with fluoroquinolone antibiotics.

The study found that, “In agreement with the in vitro assay, also HeLa cells treated with ciprofloxacin or doxorubicin rapidly accumulated supercoiled mtDNA (Figure 3A).”

This accumulation of supercoiled mtDNA led to a “change in topology” of the mitochondria, and a depletion of the mitochondrial DNA. Per the article:

“The change in topology caused by the inhibition of mitochondrial Top2 was connected with an impairment of mtDNA replication. 7S DNA, the 650bp ssDNA strand incorporated at the D-loop region of mtDNA, was rapidly depleted upon ciprofloxacin, ethidium bromide and doxorubicin treatment.”

Ciprofloxacin treatment not only depleted mtDNA, it also inhibited mtDNA synthesis:

“ciprofloxacin treatment reduced mtDNA copy number by 18% within 3 days (Figure 3C). As at the same time the growth rate of ciprofloxacin-treated cells was strongly reduced doubling time 170.2 h versus 22.7 h in untreated controls (Supplementary Figure S4), the observed depletion reflects a nearly complete inhibition of mtDNA synthesis.”

Ciprofloxacin treatment, and the resulting supercoiled mtDNA, also stalled mtDNA replication.

“Ciprofloxacin caused a strong reduction in these intermediates already after 2 h treatment (Figure 3E). After 20 h, this effect was clearly enhanced, with the strand-asynchronous intermediates being replaced by strand-coupled replication intermediates, a hallmark of mtDNA replication stalling (25,31–33).”

It was also found that ciprofloxacin inhibited the increase of mtDNA that typically comes with building muscle. It was found that:

“The impairment of mtDNA maintenance by ciprofloxacin not only disturbed cellular proliferation and the physiological increase of mtDNA copy number during muscle maturation, it also effectively impaired the fusion of confluent myoblasts to multinuclear myotubes (Figure 4E) and cell differentiation as indicated by the reduced expression of the heavy chain of Myosin II, a marker of differentiated skeletal muscle (Figure 4F).”

In the paragraph that the above quote was taken from, it was stated that “This increase (of mtDNA when muscle matures) was completely abolished by ciprofloxacin.” I’ve said it multiple times before, but, again, fluoroquinolones should NEVER be given to athletes (or anyone who values their ability to move, or have their heart beat).

In the article’s discussion section, this summary of the demonstrated damage done by ciprofloxacin was given:

“Ciprofloxacin caused a dramatic effect on mtDNA topology, blocking replication initiation, reducing copy number and inhibiting mitochondrial transcription (Figures 2B3AE and 4A). Ciprofloxacin, the third most commonly used antibacterial antibiotic, stops the cleavage/re-ligation reaction of type II topoisomerases midway, generating double-strand breaks, persistent protein–DNA adducts and reduces also the overall enzyme activity (30). Its toxicity to mitochondria has been reported in various studies, suggesting a broad range of mechanisms including topoisomerase inhibition, oxidative stress, altered calcium handling and photosensitization (38–40). In our study, we observed ciprofloxacin to clearly reduce Top2 topoisomerase activity both in vitro and in vivo, but did not find any indication of increased mtDNA double-strand breaks (Figure 3AC). However, ciprofloxacin did impair the overall mtDNA integrity in post-mitotic cells (Figure 4D). As our detection method (long-range PCR) does not distinguish between strand-breaks, abasic sites or base alterations inhibiting Taq polymerase, the observed effect might be caused by oxidative damage, which fluoroquinolones have been reported to induce in a variety of cell types (41,42).”

And the study’s authors also surmise that many of the severe adverse effects of fluoroquinolones are due to the depletion of mtDNA caused by the drugs:

“The severe side effects of ciprofloxacin and other fluoroquinolones include tendinopathies such as tendon rupture, joint inflammation, muscle weakness, central and peripheral neuropathies, epilepsy and psychological symptoms such as depression. These symptoms have been proposed to be connected to enhanced oxidative stress (42,54,55), but the molecular mechanism remained unclear. The reduction of mtDNA copy number and mitochondrial transcription caused by the altered topology of mtDNA might result in severe dysregulation of the electron transport chain complexes, as known to occur under ciprofloxacin treatment (56), lead to respiratory chain dysfunction and cause the observed enhanced oxidative stress.

Ciprofloxacin has also been reported to interfere with physiologically significant cell differentiation processes, such as spermatogenesis (57), brain development (41), bone mineralization (58), as well as to induce renal toxicity and heart arrhythmia (59). While the molecular mechanisms of these adverse effects are yet unclear, mitochondria play a central role in all of these physiological processes, making mitochondrial impairment a likely culprit for the disturbed cellular physiology.”

Throughout the article, the effects of ciprofloxacin are compared to the effects of another topoisomerase interrupting drug, doxorubicin. Per its wikipedia post, Doxorubicin “is a chemotherapy medication used to treat cancer.[3] This includes breast cancer, bladder cancer, Kaposi’s sarcoma, lymphoma, and acute lymphocytic leukemia.” The authors of Ciprofloxacin impairs mitochondrial DNA replication initiation through inhibition of Topoisomerase 2 noted that, “Interestingly, doxorubicin had a similar, but milder inhibitory effect on mtDNA replication than ciprofloxacin.” Why, yes, it is interesting that a drug that is marketed and dispensed as an antibiotic is more damaging than a similar drug that is marketed and dispensed as a chemotherapy drug. It’s very interesting indeed. It is also interesting that another topoisomerase interrupting chemotherapeutic drug, topotecan, was found to increase the expression of genes related to autism (“Topoisomerases facilitate transcription of long genes linked to autism“).

The Ciprofloxacin impairs mitochondrial DNA replication initiation through inhibition of Topoisomerase 2, authors conclude their article with two points. First, that very little is known about the consequences of mtDNA supercoiling. “Although central in bacterial genome maintenance, the whole phenomena of DNA supercoiling and its functional implications are virtually unstudied in mitochondria and calls for future research.” Yes, future research is needed, and better late than never. But nalidixic acid, the backbone of all fluoroquinolone antibiotics, was first used clinically in 1967. Shame on the medical and scientific communities for not studying the effects of fluoroquinolones on mtDNA earlier. We should have known more about the consequences of these drugs long before millions of prescriptions had been doled out, and millions of people affected.

Second, the authors of Ciprofloxacin impairs mitochondrial DNA replication initiation through inhibition of Topoisomerase 2 conclude by stating, “As fluoroquinolone antibiotics are widely used and effective drugs against a number of important bacterial pathogens, their dosage, systemic enrichment and side-effects should be reviewed in the mitochondrial context, and their clinical use should be considered with great care.” Yes, indeed, the effects of fluoroquinolones on mitochondria should be given long, hard, thoughtful consideration by every doctor, pharmacist, scientist, and every relevant person in the FDA and other regulatory agencies.

Ciprofloxacin impairs mitochondrial DNA replication initiation through inhibition of Topoisomerase 2 is an eye-opening article with groundbreaking research. Yes, more research needs to be done. But the research that has been done, that is described in the article, is greatly appreciated. Thank you to all the authors – Anu Hangas, Koit Aasumets, Nina J Kekäläinen, Mika Paloheinä, Jaakko L Pohjoismäki, Joachim M Gerhold, and Steffi Goffart.


Fluoroquinolone Induced Gene Upregulation and ROS

The article, “The Fluoroquinolone Levofloxacin Triggers the Transcriptional Activation of Iron Transport Genes That Contribute to Cell Death in Streptococcus pneumonia” is difficult.  It’s not light reading.  I wish it was.  I wish the articles that have information about how fluoroquinolones affect cells were easy to understand and to read.  I wish that we had easy, simple answers about how fluoroquinolones lead to the myriad of adverse events that are listed on the FDA warning labels for them.  I wish that more was known about how fluoroquinolones work.  I wish that a list of definitions wasn’t necessary at the beginning of this blog post.  But this stuff is hard, and a list of definitions is necessary, so, hereyago (some definitions paraphrased from the Wikipedia article because it’s easiest and I’m not a biochemist – for more info, go to the wiki page, or elsewhere):

Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS):  “Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are chemically reactive molecules containing oxygen. Examples include oxygen ions and peroxides. ROS are formed as a natural byproduct of the normal metabolism of oxygen and have important roles in cell signaling and homeostasis.  However, during times of environmental stress (e.g., UV or heat exposure), ROS levels can increase dramatically. This may result in significant damage to cell structures. Cumulatively, this is known as oxidative stress. ROS are also generated by exogenous sources such as ionizing radiation.”  ROS can be incredibly nasty.  They can lead to cellular damage, including DNA damage, and are related to every chronic disease there is.  They’re also related to ageing.  As damage from ROS (also called oxidative stress and free radicals) accumulates, ageing and the diseases of old age occur.  Interestingly though, ROS are not all bad.  They serve as signaling mechanisms within cells and play a large role in turning genes on and off (epigenetics).  They need to be in balance.  If they’re not in balance, a whole lot of things can go wrong.  They’re kind of like tequila.  A shot of tequila mixed with lime juice and other goodies, is excellent in a margarita.  But if you drink the whole bottle, and then mix it with some whiskey, it’s really bad and destructive.  The ways that ROS work within cells is not linear and difficult to study.  Not a whole lot is known about ROS or how they affect human health.  The article, “Exercise-Induced Oxidative Stress: Cellular Mechanisms and Impact on Muscle Force Production” has a really nice over-view of various ROS and their effects.  It’s easier to think of them as different  alcoholic drinks though.  Some are beer – pretty benign unless you have a ridiculous amount of them.  Others are potent – more like Everclear – and they can do a lot of damage to you quickly.

Fenton Reaction:  “Iron(II) is oxidized by hydrogen peroxide to iron(III), forming a hydroxyl radical and a hydroxide ion in the process. Iron(III) is then reduced back to iron(II) by another molecule of hydrogen peroxide, forming a hydroperoxyl radical and a proton. The net effect is a disproportionation of hydrogen peroxide to create two different oxygen-radical species, with water (H+ + OH–) as a byproduct.”  Basically, iron can “donate or accept free electrons via intracellular reactions and help in creating free radicals.”  Free radicals are ROS.  Some of the nastiest ROS are created in the Fenton Reaction – hydroxyl radicals and hydroperoxyl radicals.  (“Exercise-Induced Oxidative Stress: Cellular Mechanisms and Impact on Muscle Force Production” has good info on both of those.)

Type II topoisomerases, gyrase and topoisomerase IV:  “Type II topoisomerases maintain DNA topology and solve the topological problems associated with DNA replication, transcription, and recombination (20). Gyrase introduces negative supercoils into DNA (21), whereas topo IV relaxes DNA and participates in chromosome partitioning (22). Chromosomal topology in Escherichia coli is maintained homeostatically by the opposing activities of topoisomerases that relax DNA (topo I and topo IV) and by gyrase.” (from “The Fluoroquinolone Levofloxacin Triggers the Transcriptional Activation of Iron Transport Genes That Contribute to Cell Death in Streptococcus pneumonia”)


You got all that?  Even the definitions are difficult.  Now onto some highlights of the article, “The Fluoroquinolone Levofloxacin Triggers the Transcriptional Activation of Iron Transport Genes That Contribute to Cell Death in Streptococcus pneumonia.”

Basically, the researchers found that levofloxacin upregulated genes that are involved in iron uptake and triggered the Fenton reaction in certain bacteria.  The increase in reactive oxygen species that ensued contributed to the lethality of the levofloxacin.

There are a few interesting things that should be noted about this.  First, levofloxacin can upregulate genes.  How consequential is this?  Can eukaryotic genes be upregulated, or can only bacterial genes be upregulated?  What about mitochondrial genes?  What does upregulation of bacterial, mitochondrial and even eukaryotic nuclear genes do to the person who has taken levofloxacin?

Some interesting research is being conducted about the relationship between the microbiome and genetic, heritable traits.  This National Geographic article, “The Most Heritable Gut Bacterium is… Wait, What is That?” notes some of the relationships that are being explored.  Our genes can affect our microbiome, our microbiome can affect our genes, can the genes of our microbiome affect…. US?  Where does the microbiome stop and where do we begin?  Those are all questions that have not yet been answered.  Unfortunately, fluoroquinolones, like levofloxacin, are thoroughly messing up our microbiomes and even causing the upregulation/expression of certain genes.

The second thing of note from the article is that the upregulated genes caused the activation of the Fenton reaction in the bacterial cells.  Again, how does this affect our microbiome?  How does it affect US?  Hydroxyl radicals and superoxide anions are nasty ROS that damage everything in their wake.  What happens to the health of the microbiome, and the host (the person) when their gut is suddenly full of toxic ROS?  Leaky gut syndrome?  Autoimmune reactions?  The multi-symptom, chronic illness that is fluoroquinolone toxicity syndrome?

There is quite a bit of evidence that fluoroquinolones do to mitochondria what they do to bacteria – disrupt the process of DNA replication and reproduction and lead to destruction and cell death.  I think that mitochondrial destruction has a lot to do with fluoroquinolone toxicity.  However, I don’t think that the role of disruption of our microbiome and destruction of our gut bacteria should be overlooked.  The signaling that goes on within our microbiome, and between “us” and our microbiome, is critically important and poorly understood.  Triggering bacterial DNA destruction and death, upregulation of genes and the Fenton reaction – which leads to production of highly destructive ROS, is a very, very, very bad idea – even if it just stays within the microbiome.

The conclusion of “The Fluoroquinolone Levofloxacin Triggers the Transcriptional Activation of Iron Transport Genes That Contribute to Cell Death in Streptococcus pneumonia” is that:

“In conclusion, we have shown for the first time that fatDCEB transcription is regulated by the supercoiling level. The primary effect of the interaction of LVX-topo IV is the upregulation of the operon by local increase in DNA supercoiling. This upregulation would increase the intracellular level of iron, which activates the Fenton reaction, increasing the concentration of hydroxyl radicals. These effects were observed before the inhibition of protein synthesis mediated by LVX. All these effects, together with the DNA damage caused by the inhibition of topo IV, would account for LVX lethality. The possibility to increase FQs’ efficacy by elevating the levels of intracellular ferrous iron remains open.”

Because, apparently, seeing the big picture of the symbiotic relationship between the microbiome and the rest of the organism (the person), isn’t the goal.  The goal is to kill bacteria.  It’s ridiculously short sighted.  Sigh.

Because we’re in Floxieville, there has to be a paradox.  Supplementing iron helped me more than just about anything else.  Iron is one of the few supplements that made me feel markedly better immediately after taking it.  Other Floxies have reported that their ferritin levels are low post-flox.  The role of the Fenton reaction in fluoroquinolone toxicity would lead one to think that iron should be the last thing that a Floxie might need or want.  It helped me though.  I had more energy and even my tendons felt better when I started supplementing iron.  I don’t know if this has something to do with the kind of iron in my supplement/body – FE3 or FE2 – or if the iron had been converted to other chemical compounds and I needed to replace it, or what.  I do know that, as I said in the beginning of this post, this stuff is hard.

The Fluoroquinolone Levofloxacin Triggers the Transcriptional Activation of Iron Transport Genes That Contribute to Cell Death in Streptococcus pneumonia provides a good description of how fluoroquinolones work:

“The killing effect of FQs has been related to the resolution of reaction intermediates of DNA-FQ-topoisomerase complexes, which generates irreparable double-stranded DNA breaks (31). This could occur in E. coli by two pathways, one dependent on protein synthesis and the other independent of it. It has been shown that hydroxyl radical action contributes to FQ-mediated cell death occurring via a protein-dependent pathway (32). This result agrees with a recent proposal suggesting that, following gyrase poisoning, hydroxyl radical formation utilizing internal iron and the Fenton reaction (33) is generated and contributes to cell killing by FQs (34) as well as by other bactericidal antibiotics (35, 36). In this mechanism, proposed for Enterobacteriaceae (35, 37), the primary drug interactions stimulate oxidation of NADH via the electron transport chain that is dependent on the tricarboxylic acid cycle. Hyperactivation of the electron transport chain stimulates superoxide formation. Superoxide destabilizes the iron-sulfur clusters of enzymes, making Fe2+ available for oxidation by the Fenton reaction. The Fenton reaction leads to the formation of hydroxyl radicals that would damage DNA, proteins, and lipids (38), which results in cell death. Instead of a generalized oxidative damage, a recent study supports that the main action of hydroxyl radicals is the oxidation of guanine (to 8-oxo-guanine) of the nucleotide pool. The incomplete repair of closely spaced 8-oxo-deoxyguanosine lesions caused lethal double-strand DNA breaks, which would underlie much of the cell death caused by beta-lactams and FQs (39). However, recent investigations have questioned the role of hydroxyl radicals and intracellular iron levels in antibiotic-mediated lethality using antibiotic concentrations either similar to (40) or higher than (41) those used previously. The disparate results obtained using diverse antibiotic concentrations and times of treatment emphasize the complexity of the lethal stress response (42).”

Similar destruction happens in mitochondria.  As I mentioned though, even if it didn’t happen in mitochondria, and only happened in bacteria, that destruction and those reactions are horrible things to do to a person’s microbiome.  It is, after all, part of us.

All of the people at the FDA who think that it’s okay not to strictly regulate drugs that disrupt the process of DNA replication and reproduction, and lead to the upregulation of genes and induction of the Fenton reaction, which leads to high levels of highly reactive ROS, should be fired.  I’ve learned enough biochem in the last 3 years to know that induction of the Fenton reaction in any part of the body is a really bad idea.  The scientists at the FDA should be able to figure this out.


flu tox get help you need banner click lisa


Fluoroquinolones as Chemo Drugs – Some Thoughts

Lisa and Dad

Lisa and her dad (Bill) in 2011

Several posts about fluoroquinolones being cell-destroying chemotherapeutic drugs have been posted lately. A couple of them are written by me (Lisa Bloomquist), CIPRO, LEVAQUIN AND AVELOX ARE CHEMO DRUGS published on Hormones Matter, and FDA ALLOWS CHEMO DRUGS TO BE PRESCRIBED AS ANTIBIOTICS published on Collective Evolution. Another post about fluoroquinolones being chemo drugs is David Melvin’s, FLUOROQUINOLONE DELAYED ADVERSE REACTIONS: SIMPLE THREE STEP LOGIC published on My Quin Story. And another is Paul Fassa’s, WHAT IF YOUR ANTIBIOTIC WAS REALLY A FAILED CHEMO DRUG published on Real Farmacy. They’re all good posts with good source articles that are well worth reading and sharing (please do)!

For my pedantic friends – yes, of course, I know that all antibiotics are chemotherapeutic drugs by definition. I’m using the term “chemo drug” to mean a drug that damages human cells and is used for the purposes of fighting cancer. You know what I mean when I say “chemo drug,” – no snottiness allowed. :p

When one realizes that fluoroquinolones are cell-destroying chemo drugs, a lot of things about them make sense.

First, people have a tolerance threshold for fluoroquinolones because they have a tolerance threshold for cellular damage. The same is true for many recognized chemo drugs. An individual can handle the damage done by the chemo drug – until they can’t. The threshold is one that can be crossed over a lifetime and damage is cumulative. (More about tolerance thresholds for fluoroquinolones can be found HERE.)

Second, the severity of the adverse reactions to fluoroquinolones make sense when it is recognized that they are cell-destroying chemo drugs. How does it make sense that every system in a Floxie’s body goes hay-wire after crossing his or her tolerance threshold for fluoroquinolones? Well, he or she was given a cell-destroying chemo drug that specifically attacks the mitochondria – the engines of the cells. When cellular engines are attacked, multiple systems can have multiple problems. Symptoms that are recognized as occurring with chemo drugs are common among Floxies – brain fog, neuropathy, fatigue, etc.

Third, delayed adverse reactions make sense when one recognizes that fluoroquinolones are chemo drugs. David Melvin explains how delayed reactions make sense when noting that fluoroquinolones are cell damaging chemotherapeutic drugs in his post, FLUOROQUINOLONE DELAYED ADVERSE REACTIONS: SIMPLE THREE STEP LOGIC published on My Quin Story. The three simple steps to understanding delayed adverse reactions to fluoroquinolones are recognizing that:

  1. Fluoroquinolones are powerful drugs
  2. Fluoroquinolones are chemotherapy
  3. Chemotherapy can cause “late effects”

Delayed reactions are often the most difficult things for people to get their heads wrapped around. I have a little story to make sense of it –

My dad was diagnosed with non-hodgkins lymphoma in 2004. He went through one round of chemo and kicked its butt. He’s going strong and doing well today. (I didn’t get my “dwell for years on a period of sickness” tendencies from him.) Even though he’s constantly climbing mountains and repelling into canyons (he’s doing really well), he has said several times that his cardiovascular system isn’t as strong as it used to be before he went through his round of chemo. Some cardiovascular system damage is certainly worth it – the chemo saved his life and got rid of his cancer – so he’s not complaining when he notes that it did some damage to his heart and lungs. He just doesn’t have the endurance or cardiovascular capacity that he probably would if he hadn’t had cancer/chemotherapy. No one thinks twice when my dad says that chemo drugs damaged his cardiovascular system. It makes sense because it is known that chemotherapeutic drugs do systemic damage that can be long-lasting, and that the adverse effects from that damage can happen long after administration of the drug has stopped.

But I’m betting that 9 out of 10 doctors would say that David Melvin’s near heart attack (described HERE) had nothing to do with the fluoroquinolone that he took seven years earlier. I don’t doubt for a second that David’s cardiovascular problems have to do with fluoroquinolone toxicity though. Fluoroquinolones are chemo drugs. They damage cells. It makes just as much sense for David to blame his near heart attack on the Levaquin that he took seven years ago as it makes for my dad to note that his endurance was decreased by his round of chemo nine years ago. Both have been exposed to chemo drugs. It makes sense when it’s realized and comprehended that fluoroquinolones are chemo drugs.

Now you may be thinking, “Great, Lisa, thanks for telling me that I’m going to have a heart attack. Thanks a lot. I thought this was supposed to be Floxie HOPE.” Enter expletive directed toward me.

I’m going to scream about fluoroquinolones being chemo drugs until people “get it” and doctors stop prescribing them for stupid stuff. But I don’t want the thought of fluoroquinolones as chemo drugs to steal your hope. People recover from chemo. They do. Many people go on to live full, happy, long lives after going through multiple rounds of chemotherapy. They recover their health and vitality. Their brain fog recedes and their energy returns. They go on with their lives.

Even though my dad notes that his cardiovascular system isn’t as strong as it was before he went through chemo, he’s living a really good and full life. He’s turning 69 this month and I can’t keep up with him. He’s literally climbing up mountains and repelling down canyons every weekend. He has a lot of love and joy in his life. He’s strong and capable. He has recovered from both the cancer and the chemo.

It was wrong that I was given a chemotherapeutic drug when I didn’t have cancer. The same is true for all of my Floxie friends. There is nothing that is okay about the damage that these stupid drugs inflict on people. But recovery is possible. Take a look through the stories on this site. People have recovered from fluoroquinolone toxicity and have gone on to lead good, happy, healthy, full lives. I wish the same for all of you!

Post script – Here are some tips for recovery from chemo from the National Cancer Institute – FACING FORWARD: LIFE AFTER CANCER TREATMENT. I think MY TIPS are better, but I’m a bit biased.



flu tox get help you need banner click lisa