Central nervous system (CNS) infections caused by free-living amoebae such as Acanthamoeba species and Naegleria fowleri are rare but fatal. A major challenge in the treatment against the infections caused by these amoebae is the discovery of novel compounds that can effectively cross the blood-brain barrier to penetrate the CNS. It is logical to test clinically approved drugs against CNS diseases for their potential antiamoebic effects since they are known for effective blood-brain barrier penetration and affect eukaryotic cell targets. The antiamoebic effects of clinically available drugs for seizures targeting gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA) receptor and ion channels were tested against Acanthamoeba castellanii belonging to the T4 genotype and N. fowleri. Three such drugs, namely, diazepam (Valium), phenobarbitone (Luminal), phenytoin (Dilantin), and their silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) were evaluated against both trophozoites and cysts stage. Drugs alone and drug conjugated silver nanoparticles were tested for amoebicidal, cysticidal, and host-cell cytotoxicity assays. Nanoparticles were synthesized by sodium borohydride reduction of silver nitrate with drugs as capping agents. Drug conjugated nanoconjugates were characterized by ultraviolet-visible (UV-vis) and Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopies and atomic force microscopy (AFM). In vitro moebicidal assay showed potent amoebicidal effects for diazepam, phenobarbitone, and phenytoin-conjugated AgNPs as compared to drugs alone against A. castellanii and N. fowleri. Furthermore, both drugs and drug conjugated AgNPs showed compelling cysticidal effects. Drugs conjugations with silver nanoparticles enhanced their antiacanthamoebic activity. Interestingly, amoeba-mediated host-cell cytotoxicity was also significantly reduced by drugs alone as well as their nanoconjugates. Since, these drugs are being used to target CNS diseases, their evaluation against brain-eating amoebae seems feasible due to advantages such as permeability of the blood-brain barrier, established pharmacokinetics and dynamics, and United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. Given the limited availability of effective drugs against brain-eating amoebae, the clinically available drugs tested here present potential for further in vivo studies.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.