Naegleria fowleri and Balamuthia mandrillaris are protist pathogens that infect the central nervous system, causing primary amoebic meningoencephalitis and granulomatous amoebic encephalitis with mortality rates of over 95%. Quinazolinones and their derivatives possess a wide spectrum of biological properties, but their antiamoebic effects against brain-eating amoebae have never been tested before. In this study, we synthesized a variety of 34 novel arylquinazolinones derivatives (Q1-Q34) by altering both quinazolinone core and aryl substituents. To study the antiamoebic activity of these synthetic arylquinazolinones, amoebicidal and amoebistatic assays were performed against N. fowleri and B. mandrillaris. Moreover, amoebae-mediated host cells cytotopathogenicity and cytotoxicity assays were performed against human keratinocytes cells in vitro. The results revealed that selected arylquinazolinones derivatives decreased the viability of B. mandrillaris and N. fowleri significantly (P < 0.05) and reduced cytopathogenicity of both parasites. Furthermore, these compounds were also found to be least cytotoxic against HaCat cells. Considering that nanoparticle-based materials possess potent in vitro activity against brain-eating amoebae, we conjugated quinazolinones derivatives with silver nanoparticles and showed that activities of the drugs were enhanced successfully after conjugation. The current study suggests that quinazolinones alone as well as conjugated with silver nanoparticles may serve as potent therapeutics against brain-eating amoebae.
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