By now, you may have heard of Chloroquine, an anti-malaria drug that may be helpful in treating Coronavirus. Clinical trials are currently being conducted around the world to find out. Chloroquine works by keeping a specific enzyme that gets elevated during an infection, in check. In doing so, an infection is less likely to take hold, giving the body a chance to mount a stronger immune response and recover.
You most likely have not heard of Citicoline, an over-the-counter supplement that works a lot like Chloroquine. It has been shown in studies, to keep this same enzyme in check.
While Chloroquine is being considered as a possible intervention for Coronavirus infections, Citicoline is not. But I think it should be.
Coronavirus behaves in a similar way to other viruses. Its replication depends on certain metabolic reactions in the “host” body. One of these reactions is the elevation of a specific enzyme called phospholipase A2 (PLA2). Certain viruses have proteins that tell the host body to increase production of PLA2. The elevation in PLA2 enzyme activity creates byproducts, which are powerful, detergent like substances that break down fats, much like laundry detergents.
Fats are an important component of the protective cell membrane, which is vital to cell health and cell function. Elevated levels of PLA2 and the detergent-like byproducts damage cell membranes, leading to inflammation and pain. Reducing the levels of this enzyme keeps the integrity of the cell membrane intact and interrupts the mechanism viruses like to use to reproduce.
As PLA2 becomes elevated in the presence of viruses, the debris from this activity is used as material in the virus replication process. The virus also hijacks the PLA2 production ability of the host, enabling it to make even more PLA2. This process allows the virus to not only thrive in the body but is also responsible for the debilitating symptoms and damage to tissue and organs. Keeping PLA2 in check is an important factor in managing infection and the inflammatory response in the body.
A January 2018 paper in the Journal of Virology reported “that enzymes involved in cellular lipid metabolism may be tractable targets for broad-spectrum antivirals. We obtained evidence to show that PLA2… is critically involved in coronavirus replication.” The inhibition of PLA2 activity, “had profound effects” in cell cultures. In other words, scientists were able to see that inhibiting PLA2 help control the replication of the virus.
A January 2019 paper in the online journal Viruses, also confirmed this noting that PLA2 “was significantly associated with human-pathogenic coronavirus propagation. Our data further suggested that lipid metabolism regulation would be a common and druggable target for coronavirus infections.” What this is saying is that substances that regulate PLA2 in the body could be helpful in treating infections.
Studies have shown that Chloroquine's efficacy in treating infections may be attributable to this down regulation of the PLA2 pathway. It will not be surprising if this drug is shown to be effective in the clinical trials for Coronavirus.
Citicoline, the supplement, has also been shown to inhibit the PLA2 pathway, but mostly in studies exploring its role in central nervous system disorders and not in infectious diseases. However, a study published in January of 2014 looked at it as an adjunct treatment for Cerebral Malaria and researchers found that Citicoline should be proposed for clinical studies to improve recovery from Cerebral Malaria.
A January 2009 publication in The International Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, proposed looking at Citicoline as an adjuct therapy in the treatment of infectious disease based on its ability to modulate metabolic pathways, like PLA2, that are associated with infections.
Interestingly, levels of the PLA2 enzyme have been show to be elevated in stroke victims as well as in patients with MS, RA, Crohn's, allergies, cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, candida, neurological disorders, asthma, and many other illness. This is where most of the research has taken place.
A June 2003 study in the Journal of Neuroscience Research noted, “ the neuroprotective effects of Citicoline in stroke models include prevention of activation of phospholipase A2 (PLA2)”. In other words, the inhibition PLA2 was shown to have a protective effect on nerve function after a stroke.
If Chloroquine's effectiveness in the treatment of infections stems from this inhibition of PLA2 activity and if Citicoline's effectiveness in the treatment of stroke victims and others with chronic illnesses stems from this inhibition of PLA2 activity, it stands to reason that Citicoline could could be effective in the prevention or management of a Coronavirus infection.
Aside from this possibility, there is ample evidence that supplement can be effective in the management of the many inflammatory and age related conditions and illnesses noted earlier. Moreover, Citicoline does not have the harmful side affects associated with taking antibiotics. It is considered a very safe supplement, with few if any side effects.
To me, in this Coronavirus dominated environment, taking Cititcoline sounds like a win win opportunity for all, especially for those at higher risk.
I have written this for informational and educational purposes only. I have included references if you are interested in learning about this is more detail. There is also more research on Google Scholar.
Here is a link to a webinar presented by Great Plains Laboratory on PLA2 and Coronavirus.
If anyone has any questions, comments or corrections regarding this information, please get in touch with me.
Integrative Health Coach
Barnett Wellness Consulting
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