Lourdes C. Souza-Neta, Diego Menezes, Milena S. Lima, Martins D. Cerqueira, Frederico G. Cruz, Dirceu Martins and Marcos A. Vannier-Santos Pages 1022 - 1032 ( 11 )
Chagas disease causes considerable morbimortality in the Americas, with circa 7 to 8 million infected people, causing at least 12,000 annual deaths and 100 million people at risk. Its chemotherapy is poorly selective and effective, associated to severe side effects and unresponsive cases. Thus, R&D on therapeutic alternatives is undoubtedly required. The Brazilian poorly studied biodiversity offers uncountable bioagents, which may be exploited for chemotherapy. The triterpene arjunolic acid (AA), reduced the Trypanosoma cruzi epimastigote in vitro proliferation with an apparent IC50 of 171 µM. Electron microscopy analysis revealed remarkable effects on the parasite surface and architecture. AA-treated parasites displayed minutely corrugated plasma membranes devoid of subpellicular microtubules as well as biogenesis of multiple basal bodies. As the AA effects appeared mainly restricted or originated at the parasite peripheral cytoplasm, including the cytoskeleton membrane linkage, we inferred that the compound targeted primarily the lipid bilayer; therefore, we performed synthetic modification to increase the molecule lipophilicity and thus membrane permeability. The methyl ester (MeAA) and tri-acetylated derivatives (3AcAA) had potentiated trypanocidal activity, producing IC50 values of 21.9 and 15.8 µM, respectively. Both derivatives were able to produce remarkable ultrastructural alterations in the parasites, including inner compartments such as Golgi apparatus and the endocytic/autophagic pathway. Parasites cultured with both derivatives displayed numerous and large autophagic vacuoles, altered flagellar length and cell body connection. These data indicate that synthetically-modified natural products comprise valuable tools in antiparasitic chemotherapy and that electron microscopy may be useful not only in determining the mechanisms of action but also in directing such modifications for rational drug design.
Chemotherapy, electron microscopy, natural products, triterpene, Trypanosoma cruzi.
Laboratorio de Biologia Parasitaria, Centro de Pesquisa Goncalo Moniz, Fundacao Oswaldo Cruz - FIOCRUZ, Rua Waldemar Falcao 121, Candeal, Salvador, BA, Brazil 40296- 710.