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  1. Mungroo MR, Anwar A, Khan NA, Siddiqui R
    Mini Rev Med Chem, 2019;19(12):980-987.
    PMID: 30868950 DOI: 10.2174/1389557519666190313161854
    Pathogenic free-living amoeba are known to cause a devastating infection of the central nervous system and are often referred to as "brain-eating amoebae". The mortality rate of more than 90% and free-living nature of these amoebae is a cause for concern. It is distressing that the mortality rate has remained the same over the past few decades, highlighting the lack of interest by the pharmaceutical industry. With the threat of global warming and increased outdoor activities of public, there is a need for renewed interest in identifying potential anti-amoebic compounds for successful prognosis. Here, we discuss the available chemotherapeutic options and opportunities for potential strategies in the treatment and diagnosis of these life-threatening infections.
  2. Mungroo MR, Anwar A, Khan NA, Siddiqui R
    ACS Omega, 2020 Jun 02;5(21):12467-12475.
    PMID: 32548431 DOI: 10.1021/acsomega.0c01305
    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.
  3. Mungroo MR, Khan NA, Anwar A, Siddiqui R
    Int Microbiol, 2021 Aug 09.
    PMID: 34368912 DOI: 10.1007/s10123-021-00201-0
    Pathogenic free-living amoebae are known to cause fatal central nervous system infections with extremely high mortality rates. High selectivity of the blood-brain barrier hampers delivery of drugs and untargeted delivery of drugs can cause severe side effects. Nanovehicles can be used for targeted drug delivery across the blood-brain barrier. Inorganic nanoparticles have been explored as carriers for various biomedical applications and can be modified with various ligands for efficient targeting and cell selectivity while lipid-based nanoparticles have been extensively used in the development of both precision and colloidal nanovehicles. Nanomicelles and polymeric nanoparticles can also serve as nanocarriers and may be modified so that responsiveness of the nanoparticles and release of the loads are linked to specific stimuli. These nanoparticles are discussed here in the context of the treatment of central nervous system infections due to pathogenic amoebae. It is anticipated that these novel strategies can be utilized in tandem with novel drug leads currently in the pipeline and yield in the development of much needed treatments against these devastating parasites.
  4. Siddiqui R, Roberts SK, Ong TYY, Mungroo MR, Anwar A, Khan NA
    Parasit Vectors, 2019 Nov 14;12(1):538.
    PMID: 31727139 DOI: 10.1186/s13071-019-3785-0
    BACKGROUND: Acanthamoeba is well known to produce a blinding keratitis and serious brain infection known as encephalitis. Effective treatment is problematic, and can continue up to a year, and even then, recurrence can ensue. Partly, this is due to the capability of vegetative amoebae to convert into resistant cysts. Cysts can persist in an inactive form for decades while retaining their pathogenicity. It is not clear how Acanthamoeba cysts monitor environmental changes, and determine favourable conditions leading to their emergence as viable trophozoites.

    METHODS: The role of ion transporters in the encystation and excystation of Acanthamoeba remains unclear. Here, we investigated the role of sodium, potassium and calcium ion transporters as well as proton pump inhibitors on A. castellanii encystation and excystation and their effects on trophozoites.

    RESULTS: Remarkably 3',4'-dichlorobenzamil hydrochloride a sodium-calcium exchange inhibitor, completely abolished excystation of Acanthamoeba. Furthermore, lanthanum oxide and stevioside hydrate, both potassium transport inhibitors, resulted in the partial inhibition of Acanthamoeba excystation. Conversely, none of the ion transport inhibitors affected encystation or had any effects on Acanthamoeba trophozoites viability.

    CONCLUSIONS: The present study indicates that ion transporters are involved in sensory perception of A. castellanii suggesting their value as potential therapeutic targets to block cellular differentiation that presents a significant challenge in the successful prognosis of Acanthamoeba infections.

  5. Anwar A, Mungroo MR, Anwar A, Sullivan WJ, Khan NA, Siddiqui R
    ACS Infect Dis, 2019 12 13;5(12):2039-2046.
    PMID: 31612700 DOI: 10.1021/acsinfecdis.9b00263
    Brain-eating amoebae cause devastating infections in the central nervous system of humans, resulting in a mortality rate of 95%. There are limited effective therapeutic options available clinically for treating granulomatous amoebic encephalitis and primary amoebic meningoencephalitis caused by Acanthamoeba castellanii (A. castellanii) and Naegleria fowleri (N. fowleri), respectively. Here, we report for the first time that guanabenz conjugated to gold and silver nanoparticles has significant antiamoebic activity against both A. castellanii and N. fowleri. Gold and silver conjugated guanabenz nanoparticles were synthesized by the one-phase reduction method and were characterized by ultraviolet-visible spectrophotometry and atomic force microscopy. Both metals were facilely stabilized by the coating of guanabenz, which was examined by surface plasmon resonance determination. The average size of gold nanoconjugated guanabenz was found to be 60 nm, whereas silver nanoparticles were produced in a larger size distribution with the average diameter of around 100 nm. Guanabenz and its noble metal nanoconjugates exhibited potent antiamoebic effects in the range of 2.5 to 100 μM against both amoebae. Nanoparticle conjugation enhanced the antiamoebic effects of guanabenz, as more potent activity was observed at a lower effective concentration (2.5 and 5 μM) compared to the drug alone. Moreover, encystation and excystation assays revealed that guanabenz inhibits the interconversion between the trophozoite and cyst forms of A. castellanii. Cysticdal effects against N. fowleri were also observed. Notably, pretreatment of A. castellanii with guanabenz and its nanoconjugates exhibited a significant reduction in the host cell cytopathogenicity from 65% to 38% and 2% in case of gold and silver nanoconjugates, respectively. Moreover, the cytotoxic evaluation of guanabenz and its nanoconjugates revealed negligible cytotoxicity against human cells. Guanabenz is already approved for hypertension and crosses the blood-brain barrier; the results of our current study suggest that guanabenz and its conjugated gold and silver nanoparticles can be repurposed as a potential drug for treating brain-eating amoebic infections.
  6. Mungroo MR, Shahbaz MS, Anwar A, Saad SM, Khan KM, Khan NA, et al.
    ACS Chem Neurosci, 2020 08 19;11(16):2438-2449.
    PMID: 31961126 DOI: 10.1021/acschemneuro.9b00596
    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.
  7. Anwar A, Mungroo MR, Khan S, Fatima I, Rafique R, Kanwal, et al.
    Antibiotics (Basel), 2020 Apr 17;9(4).
    PMID: 32316387 DOI: 10.3390/antibiotics9040188
    Balamuthia mandrillaris and Naegleriafowleri are opportunistic protozoan pathogens capable of producing infection of the central nervous system with more than 95% mortality rate. Previously, we have synthesized several compounds with antiamoebic properties; however, synthesis of compounds that are analogues of clinically used drugs is a highly desirable approach that can lead to effective drug development against these devastating infections. In this regard, compounds belonging to the azole class possess wide range of antimicrobial properties and used clinically. In this study, six novel benzimidazole, indazole, and tetrazole derivatives were synthesized and tested against brain-eating amoebae. These compounds were tested for their amoebicidal and static properties against N. fowleri and B. mandrillaris. Furthermore, the compounds were conjugated with silver nanoparticles and characterized. The synthetic heterocyclic compounds showed up to 72% and 65% amoebicidal activities against N. fowleri and B. mandrillaris respectively, while expressing up to 75% and 70% amoebistatic activities, respectively. Following conjugation with silver nanoparticles, amoebicidal activities of the drugs increased by up to 46 and 36% versus B. mandrillaris and N. fowleri. Minimal effects were observed when the compounds were evaluated against human cells using cytotoxicity assays. In summary, azole compounds exhibited potent activity against N. fowleri and B. mandrillaris. Moreover, conjugation of the azole compounds with silver nanoparticles further augmented the capabilities of the compounds against amoebae.
  8. Kanwal, Mungroo MR, Anwar A, Ali F, Khan S, Abdullah MA, et al.
    Exp Parasitol, 2020 Nov;218:107979.
    PMID: 32866583 DOI: 10.1016/j.exppara.2020.107979
    Balamuthia mandrillaris and Naegleria fowleri are free-living amoebae that can cause life-threatening infections involving the central nervous system. The high mortality rates of these infections demonstrate an urgent need for novel treatment options against the amoebae. Considering that indole and thiazole compounds possess wide range of antiparasitic properties, novel bisindole and thiazole derivatives were synthesized and evaluated against the amoebae. The antiamoebic properties of four synthetic compounds i.e., two new bisindoles (2-Bromo-4-(di (1H-indol-3-yl)methyl)phenol (denoted as A1) and 2-Bromo-4-(di (1H-indol-3-yl)methyl)-6-methoxyphenol (A2)) and two known thiazole (4-(3-Nitrophenyl)-2-(2-(pyridin-3-ylmethylene)hydrazinyl)thiazole (A3) and 4-(Biphenyl-4-yl)-2-(2-(1-(pyridin-4-yl)ethylidene)hydrazinyl)thiazole (A4)) were evaluated against B. mandrillaris and N. fowleri. The ability of silver nanoparticle (AgNPs) conjugation to enrich antiamoebic activities of the compounds was also investigated. The synthetic heterocyclic compounds demonstrated up to 53% and 69% antiamoebic activities against B. mandrillaris and N. fowleri respectively, while resulting in up to 57% and 68% amoebistatic activities, respectively. Antiamoebic activities of the compounds were enhanced by up to 71% and 51% against B. mandrillaris and N. fowleri respectively, after conjugation with AgNPs. These compounds exhibited potential antiamoebic effects against B. mandrillaris and N. fowleri and conjugation of synthetic heterocyclic compounds with AgNPs enhanced their activity against the amoebae.
  9. Abdelnasir S, Mungroo MR, Shahabuddin S, Siddiqui R, Khan NA, Anwar A
    ACS Chem Neurosci, 2021 Oct 06;12(19):3579-3587.
    PMID: 34545742 DOI: 10.1021/acschemneuro.1c00179
    Free-living amoebae include Acanthamoeba castellanii and Naegleria fowleri that are opportunistic protozoa responsible for life-threatening central nervous system infections with mortality rates over 90%. The rising number of cases and high mortality rates are indicative of the critical unmet need for the development of efficient drugs in order to avert future deaths. In this study, we assess the anti-amoebic capacity of a conducting polymer nanocomposite comprising polyaniline (PANI) and hexagonal boron nitride (hBN) against A. castellanii and N. fowleri. We observed significant amoebicidal and cysticidal effects using 100 μg/mL PANI/hBN (P < 0.05). Further, the nanocomposite demonstrated negligible cytotoxicity toward HaCaT and primary human corneal epithelial cells (pHCECs). In evaluating the mode of inhibition of A. castellanii due to treatment with PANI/hBN, increased intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) was measured and scanning microscopy visualized the formation of pores in the amoebae. Overall, this study is suggestive of the potential of the PANI/hBN nanocomposite as a promising therapy for amoeba infections.
  10. Mungroo MR, Tong T, Khan NA, Anuar TS, Maciver SK, Siddiqui R
    Int Microbiol, 2021 Aug;24(3):363-371.
    PMID: 33754231 DOI: 10.1007/s10123-021-00171-3
    Acanthamoeba keratitis is a sight-endangering eye infection, and causative organism Acanthamoeba presents a significant concern to public health, given escalation of contact lens wearers. Contemporary therapy is burdensome, necessitating prompt diagnosis and aggressive treatment. None of the contact lens disinfectants (local and international) can eradicate Acanthamoeba effectively. Using a range of compounds targeting cellulose, ion channels, and biochemical pathways, we employed bioassay-guided testing to determine their anti-amoebic effects. The results indicated that acarbose, indaziflam, terbuthylazine, glimepiride, inositol, vildagliptin and repaglinide showed anti-amoebic effects. Compounds showed minimal toxicity on human cells. Therefore, effects of the evaluated compounds after conjugation with nanoparticles should certainly be the subject of future studies and will likely lead to promising leads for potential applications.
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