How can the Fluoroquinolones cause epigenetic changes?
Your DNA is unique and static. In other words, it is the same your entire life; you will die with the same genes you were born with. The genes in your DNA influence enzymes in your body that guide different processes. All the genes in your DNA can be switched ‘On’ or ‘Off’. The current state in which your genes are influencing your existence is called ‘gene expression’. The interactions that your body has with it’s environment (sleep, food, emotions, toxins, etc…) determines which of your genes are turned ‘On’ or ‘Off’ is through a process called epigenetics.
Your genes can be switched on or off by your environment. External influences such as food, sleep, and even sun exposure can influence which genes are turned ‘On’ or ‘Off.’ Basically everything you come in contact with has the potential for influencing your genetics.
Some genes have the potential to be real ‘good’ and are associated with good things like longevity or strong muscles. Other genes have the potential to be ‘bad’ and can cause various disease process, some of which can be fatal, or just an inconvenience.
Exposures to certain toxins in our environment can cause certain genes to switch ‘On’ that would have otherwise remained ‘Off’, or genes to switch ‘Off’ that should have stayed ‘On.’
Epigenetics is a relatively new field. Researchers are starting to understand how dynamic the epigenetic process is. As you can imagine, pharmaceuticals, especially powerful ones, can have epigenetic influence and some of them can be detrimental.
In the research paper “Epigenetic side-effects of common pharmaceuticals: A potential new ﬁeld in medicine and pharmacology” the authors describe how drugs can have adverse effects through an epigenetic mechanism. In this paper some of the more powerful pharmaceuticals that are documented to be able to induce epigenetic changes are listed. It should come as no surprise that the fluoroquinolones are listed on page 6. Drugs that are very powerful and that can reach into all the nooks and crevices in the human body, have the potential to wreak havoc. The fluoroquinolones, even though treated as benign, are one of those very powerful drugs.
The authors in the above mentioned research paper related that ‘extensive changes’ in gene expression were implicated in damages to cartilage and suggests that it is the method that causes FQ arthropathy. They go on to document that FQ induced hepatic and cardiovascular adverse events suggest the possibility of persistent gene expression changes in the liver and heart.
Mayo Clinic, in their paper “Non-antibiotic effects of fluoroquinolones in mammalian cells” from July 2015, documents that “FQ antibiotics induce global epigenetic changes.”
Now here is the important part. Any drug that can induce epigenetic changes has the potential to switch ‘On’ or ‘Off’ genes that become or start a pathogenic process.
Due to the immensity of the number of genes, coupled with environmental variables, the potential to identify every gene that can be switched ‘On’ or ‘Off’ in a negative way by the FQ’s is still quite a ways off. However, based on the current research we can clearly see how the FQ’s have the potential to influence a person’s genome in a negative way. Even despite the fact that the FDA documents a neurodegenerative link, more research is needed to further elucidate the long term impact that the FQ’s are having on society as a whole. Given these facts, it is both prudent and wise that the very powerful FQ’s are used in an extremely judicious manner by medical personnel.