Balamuthia mandrillaris and Naegleria fowleri are free-living amoebae that cause infection of the central nervous system, granulomatous amoebic encephalitis (GAE) and primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), respectively. The fact that mortality rates for cases of GAE and PAM are more than 95% indicates the need for new therapeutic agents against those amoebae. Considering that curcumin exhibits a wide range of biological properties and has shown efficacy against Acanthamoeba castellanii, we evaluated the amoebicidal properties of curcumin against N. fowleri and B. mandrillaris. Curcumin showed significant amoebicidal activities with an AC50 of 172 and 74 μM against B. mandrillaris and N. fowleri, respectively. Moreover, these compounds were also conjugated with gold nanoparticles to further increase their amoebicidal activities. After conjugation with gold nanoparticles, amoebicidal activities of the drugs were increased by up to 56 and 37% against B. mandrillaris and N. fowleri, respectively. These findings are remarkable and suggest that clinically available curcumin and our gold-conjugated curcumin nanoparticles hold promise in the improved treatment of fatal infections caused by brain-eating amoebae and should serve as a model in the rationale development of therapeutic interventions against other infections.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.