Mode of action of natural and synthetic drugs against Trypanosoma cruzi and their interaction with the mammalian host

Author: Maya, J.D.; Cassels, B.K.; Iturriaga-Vasquez, P.; Ferreira, J.; Faundez, M.; Galanti, N.; Ferreira, A.; Morello, A.

Description: Current knowledge of the biochemistry of Trypanosoma cruzi has led to the development of new drugs and the understanding of their mode of action. Some trypanocidal drugs such as nifurtimox and benznidazole act through free radical generation during their metabolism. T. cruzi is very susceptible to the cell damage induced by these metabolites because enzymes scavenging free radicals are absent or have very low activities in the parasite. Another potential target is the biosynthetic pathway of glutathione and trypanothione, the low molecular weight thiol found exclusively in trypanosomatids. These thiols scavenge free radicals and participate in the conjugation and detoxication of numerous drugs. Inhibition of this key pathway could render the parasite much more susceptible to the toxic action of drugs such as nifurtimox and benznidazole without affecting the host significantly. Other drugs such as allopurinol and purine analogs inhibit purine transport in T. cruzi, which cannot synthesize purines de novo. Nitroimidazole derivatives such as itraconazole inhibit sterol metabolism. The parasite’s respiratory chain is another potential therapeutic target because of its many differences with the host enzyme complexes. The pharmacological modulation of the host’s immune response against T. cruzi infection as a possible chemotherapeutic target is discussed. A large set of chemicals of plant origin and a few animal metabolites active against T. cruzi are enumerated and their likely modes of action are briefly discussed.

Subject headings: Acute-Phase Reaction; Animals; Chagas Disease–drug therapy, epidemiology; Ergosterol–metabolism; Host-Parasite Interactions–drug effects; Humans; Immunologic Factors–pharmacology; Mammals; Nifurtimox/pharmacology; Nitric Oxide–physiology; Nitroimidazoles–pharmacology; Purines–metabolism; Sulfhydryl Compounds–metabolism; Trypanocidal Agents–pharmacology; Trypanosoma cruzi–drug effects, physiology

Publication year: 2007

Journal or book title: Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology. Part A, Molecular & Integrative Physiology

Volume: 146

Issue: 4

Pages: 601-620

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Type: Journal Article

Serial number: 555