Effect of artesunate and mefloquine in combination on the Fridericia corrected QT intervals in Plasmodium falciparum infected adults from Thailand.
OBJECTIVE: To ascertain whether mefloquine (MQ) produces electrocardiogram (ECG) changes that could be a risk for Torsades de Pointe (TdP), a potentially malignant, ventricular tachyarrhythmia. METHODS: We measured the Fridericia corrected QT (QTcF) intervals on 12 lead ECGs on days (D) 0, 3, 7 in Plasmodium falciparum infected adults, treated with oral artesunate (AS) and MQ as a new fixed dose (n = 25) combination or loose tablets (n = 25) over 3 days. Target total doses were 12 mg/kg of AS and 24-25 mg/kg of MQ. MQ concentrations ([MQ]) were measured by HPLC. RESULTS: All ECG intervals were similar between drug arms and were combined for analysis. Mean QTcF values were 389 (D0), 407 (D3) and 399 (D7) ms (Ps < 0.003 vs. D0); corresponding heart rates and [MQ]s were 83, 67 and 73 beats/minute (Ps </= 0.0003 vs. D0) and 0, 3095 and 1721 ng/ml. One male patient (loose arm) had a D3 QTcF 504 ms (D0 406 ms, D7 433 ms). In the modelling of QTcF and JTcF from D0 to D7, significant effects were observed individually for [MQ], temperature and heart rate (HR). The MQ AUC(0-infinity) was not a significant factor. Using a manual descending, model building approach to select variables, the HR was the only significant variable (P = 0.001) over time in the model that best explained the changes in the QTcF and JTcF intervals. CONCLUSIONS: In this small group of patients, slowing heart rates due to malaria resolution best explained the observed increases in the QTcF intervals.