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August 1970

Reversible Bone Marrow Suppression From Chloramphenicol: A Consequence of Mitochondrial Injury

Author Affiliations

Miami, Fla; Medellin, Colombia

From the Department of Medicine and Biochemistry and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Miami School of Medicine, Miami, Fla (Drs. Yunis and Smith); and the Department of Medicine, University of Antioquia, Medellin, Colombia (Dr. Restrepo).

Arch Intern Med. 1970;126(2):272-275. doi:10.1001/archinte.1970.00310080078010

Chloramphenicol is a potent inhibitor of mitochondrial protein synthesis. Recent studies on rabbit and human bone marrow mitochondria strongly suggest a relationship between inhibition of protein synthesis and myelotoxicity from chloramphenicol. A thorough electron microscopic study of bone marrow mitochondria derived from patients receiving chloramphenicol indicates that this drug induces ultrastructural modifications resulting in an increase in the density of the mitochondrial matrix. Excellent correlation is observed between the extent of the ultrastructural changes and serum levels of free chloramphenicol. The results lend further support to the hypothesis that reversible bone marrow suppression from chloramphenicol results from inhibition by the drug of mitochondrial protein synthesis.