Activity of imidazole compounds on Leishmania (L.) infantum chagasi: reactive oxygen species induced by econazole

Mesquita, Juliana; Costa-Silva, Thais; Borborema, Samanta; Tempone, André
April 2014
Molecular & Cellular Biochemistry;Apr2014, Vol. 389 Issue 1/2, p293
Academic Journal
Drug repositioning has been considered a promising approach to discover novel treatments against neglected diseases. Among the major protozoan diseases, leishmaniasis remains a public health threat with few therapeutic alternatives, affecting 12 million people in 98 countries. In this study, we report the in vitro antileishmanial activity of the imidazole drugs clotrimazole, and for the first time in literature, econazole and bifonazole and their potential action to affect the regulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) of the parasites. The lethal action of the imidazoles was investigated using spectrofluorimetric techniques to detect ROS content, plasma membrane permeability, and mitochondrial membrane potential. The imidazoles showed activity against L. (L.) infantum chagasi promastigotes with IC values in a range of 2-8 μM; econazole was also effective against Leishmania intracellular amastigotes, with an IC value of 11 μM, a similar in vitro effectiveness to miltefosine. Leishmania promastigotes rapidly up-regulated the ROS release after incubation with the imidazoles, but econazole showed a marked increase in ROS content of approximately 1,900 % higher than untreated parasites. When using SYTOX Green as a fluorescent probe, the imidazoles demonstrated considerable interference in plasma membrane permeability at the early time of incubation; econazole resulted in the higher influx of SYTOX Green at 60 min. Despite cellular alterations, no depolarization could be observed to the mitochondrial membrane potential of Leishmania until 60 min. The lethal action of econazole involved strong permeabilization of plasma membrane of promastigotes, with an overloaded ROS content that contributed to the death of parasites. Affecting the ROS regulation of Leishmania via small molecules would be an interesting strategy for new drugs.


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