The treatment of Acanthamoeba infections remains problematic, suggesting that new targets and/or chemotherapeutic agents are needed. Bioassay-guided screening of drugs that are clinically-approved for non-communicable diseases against opportunistic eukaryotic pathogens is a viable strategy. With known targets and mode of action, such drugs can advance to clinical trials at a faster pace. Recently Bortezomib (proteasome inhibitor) has been approved by FDA in the treatment of multiple myeloma. As proteasomal pathways are well known regulators of a variety of eukaryotic cellular functions, the overall aim of the present study was to study the effects of peptidic and non-peptidic proteasome inhibitors on the biology and pathogenesis of Acanthamoeba castellanii of the T4 genotype, in vitro. Zymographic assays revealed that inhibition of proteasome had detrimental effects on the extracellular proteolytic activities of A. castellanii. Proteasome inhibition affected A. castellanii growth (using amoebistatic assays), but not viability of A. castellanii. Importantly, proteasome inhibitors affected encystation as determined by trophozoite transformation into the cyst form, as well as excystation, as determined by cyst transformation into the trophozoite form. The ability of proteasome inhibitor to block Acanthamoeba differentiation is significant, as it presents a major challenge in the successful treatment of Acanthamoeba infection. As these drugs are used clinically against non-communicable diseases, the findings reported here have the potential to be tested in a clinical setting against amoebic infections.
Balamuthia mandrillaris is a protist pathogen that can cause encephalitis with a mortality rate of more than 95%. Early diagnosis followed by aggressive treatment is a pre-requisite for successful prognosis. Current methods for identifying this organism rely on culture and microscopy, antibody-based methods using animals, or involve the use of molecular tools that are expensive. Here, we describe the isolation of antibody fragments that can be used for the unequivocal identification of B. mandrillaris. B. mandrillaris-specific antibody fragments were isolated from a bacteriophage antibody display library. Individual clones were studied by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, and immunofluorescence. Four antibody clones showed specific binding to B. mandrillaris. The usefulness of phage antibody display technology as a diagnostic tool for isolating antibody fragments against B. mandrillaris antigens and studying their biological role(s) is discussed further.
To accelerate the discovery of novel leads for the treatment of Human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT), it is necessary to have a simple, robust and cost-effective assay to identify positive hits by high throughput whole cell screening. Most of the fluorescence assay was made in black plate however in this study the HTS assay developed in 384-well format using clear plate and black plate, for comparison. The HTS assay developed is simple, sensitive, reliable and reproducible in both types of plates. Assay robustness and reproducibility were determined under the optimized conditions in 384-well plate was well tolerated in the HTS assay, including percentage of coefficient of variation (% CV) of 4.68% and 4.74% in clear and black 384-well plate, signal-to-background ratio (S/B) of 12.75 in clear 384-well plate and 12.07 in black 384-well plate, Z' factor of 0.79 and 0.82 in clear 384-well plate and black 384-well plate, respectively and final concentration of 0.30% dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) in both types of plate. Drug sensitivity was found to be comparable to the reported anti-trypanosomal assay in 96-well format. The reproducibility and sensitivity of this assay make it compliant to automated liquid handler use in HTS applications.
Malaria remains one of the world's most important infectious diseases and is responsible for enormous mortality and morbidity. Human infection with Plasmodium knowlesi is widely distributed in Southeast Asia. Merozoite surface protein-1₁₉ (MSP-1₁₉), which plays an important role in protective immunity against asexual blood stage malaria parasites, appears as a leading immunogenic antigen of Plasmodium sp. We evaluated the sensitivity and specificity of recombinant P. knowlesi MSP-1₁₉ (rMSP-1₁₉) for detection of malarial infection. rMSP-1₁₉ was expressed in Escherichia coli expression system and the purified rMSP-1₁₉ was evaluated with malaria, non-malaria and healthy human serum samples (n = 215) in immunoblots. The sensitivity of rMSP-1₁₉ for detection of P. knowlesi, Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium ovale infection was 95.5%, 75.0%, 85.7% and 100%, respectively. rMSP-1₁₉ did not react with all the non-malaria and healthy donor sera, which represents 100% specificity. The rMSP-1₁₉ could be used as a potential antigen in serodiagnosis of malarial infection in humans.
We here describe the novel finding that brain endothelial cells in vitro can stimulate the growth of Plasmodium falciparum through the production of low molecular weight growth factors. By using a conditioned medium approach, we show that the brain endothelial cells continued to release these factors over time. If this mirrors the in vivo situation, these growth factors potentially would provide an advantage, in terms of enhanced growth, for sequestered parasitised red blood cells in the brain microvasculature. We observed this phenomenon with brain endothelial cells from several sources as well as a second P. falciparum strain. The characteristics of the growth factors included: <3 kDa molecular weight, heat stable, and in part chloroform soluble. Future efforts should be directed at identifying these growth factors, since blocking their production or actions might be of benefit for reducing parasite load and, hence, malaria pathology.
Acanthamoeba is an opportunistic protist pathogen that is responsible for serious human and animal infection. Being one of the most frequently isolated protists from the environment, it is likely that it readily encounters microaerophilic environments. For respiration under anaerobic or low oxygen conditions in several amitochondriate protists, decarboxylation of pyruvate is catalyzed by pyruvate ferredoxin oxidoreductase instead of pyruvate dehydrogenase. In support, Nitazoxanide, an inhibitor of pyruvate ferredoxin oxidoreductase, is effective and non-mutagenic clinically against a range of amitochondriate protists, Giardia intestinalis, Entamoeba histolytica and Trichomonas vaginalis. The overall aim of the present study was to determine in vitro efficacy of Nitazoxanide against Acanthamoeba castellanii. At micromolar concentrations, the findings revealed that Nitazoxanide neither affected A. castellanii growth or viability nor amoeba-mediated host cell monolayer damage in vitro or extracellular proteolytic activities. Similarly, microaerophilic conditions alone had no significant effects. In contrast, microaerophilic conditions together with Nitazoxanide showed amoebicidal effects and inhibited A. castellanii-mediated host cell monolayer damage as well as extracellular proteases. Using encystation assays, it was observed that Nitazoxanide inhibited trophozoite transformation into cysts both under aerophilic and microaerophilic conditions. Furthermore, pre-treatment of cysts with Nitazoxanide inhibited A. castellanii excystation. These findings are important in the identification of potential targets that could be useful against parasite-specific respiration as well as to understand the basic biology of the life cycle of Acanthamoeba.
Entamoeba histolytica is a causative agent of amoebic liver abscess (ALA) and is endemic in many underdeveloped countries. We investigated antigenic E. histolytica proteins in liver abscess aspirates using proteomics approach. Pus samples were first tested by real-time PCR to confirm the presence of E. histolytica DNA and the corresponding serum samples tested for E. histolytica-specific IgG by a commercial ELISA. Proteins were extracted from three and one pool(s) of pus samples from ALA and PLA (pyogenic liver abscess) patients respectively, followed by analysis using isoelectric focussing, SDS-PAGE and Western blot. Unpurified pooled serum samples from infected hamsters and pooled human amoebic-specific IgG were used as primary antibodies. The antigenic protein band was excised from the gel, digested and analysed by MALDI-TOF/TOF and LC-MS/MS. The results using both primary antibodies showed an antigenic protein band of ∼14kDa. Based on the mass spectrum analysis, putative tyrosine kinase is the most probable identification of the antigenic band.
Giardia duodenalis is an important intestinal protozoan in Yemen with infection rates ranging from 18% to 27%. To date, there has been no genotyping study to provide a better understanding of the transmission dynamic. This study was conducted to genotype and subtype G. duodenalis in Yemen. Stool samples were collected from 503 Yemeni outpatients between 1 and 80 years old, including 219 males and 284 females. Giardia cysts were detected via microscopy after the formal-ether concentration. Genotyping of Giardia was carried out using PCR and sequence analysis of the 16s rRNA and b-giardin genes. Of the 89 microscopy-positive Giardia samples, 65 were successfully sequenced, of which 66% (43 of 65) were identified as G. duodenalis assemblage A and 34% (22 of 65) as assemblage B. Further subtyping analysis based on b-giardin gene identified the presence of subtypes A2 and A3, which belong to the anthroponotic sub-assemblage AII. Data of the study suggest that anthroponotic transmission played a potential role in the transmission of giardiasis in the community. However, further genotyping and subtyping studies of specimens from humans and animals living in the same households are needed for a more definitive understanding of giardiasis transmission in Yemen.
Thirty snakehead fish, Channa micropeltes (Cuvier, 1831) were collected at Lake Kenyir, Malaysia. Muscle, liver, intestine and kidney tissues were removed from each fish and the intestine was opened to reveal cestodes. In order to assess the concentration of heavy metal in the environment, samples of water in the surface layer and sediment were also collected. Tissues were digested and the concentrations of manganese (Mn), zinc (Zn), copper (Cu), cadmium (Cd) and lead (Pb) were analysed by using inductively-coupled plasma mass-spectrometry (ICP-MS) equipment. The results demonstrated that the cestode Senga parva (Fernando and Furtado, 1964) from fish hosts accumulated some heavy metals to a greater extent than the water and some fish tissues, but less than the sediment. In three (Pb, Zn and Mn) of the five elements measured, cestodes accumulated the highest metal concentrations, and in remaining two (Cu and Cd), the second highest metal accumulation was recorded in the cestodes when compared to host tissues. Therefore, the present study indicated that Senga parva accumulated metals and might have potential as a bioindicator of heavy-metal pollution.
Molecular methods are used increasingly for the detection of Toxoplasma gondii infection. This study developed a rapid, sensitive, and specific conventional triplex PCR for the detection of the B1 gene and ITS1 region of T. gondii using newly designed primers and an internal control based on the Vibrio cholerae HemM gene. The annealing temperature and concentrations of the primers, MgCl(2), and dNTPs were optimized. Two sets of primers (set 1 and 2) were tested, which contained different segments of the T. gondii B1 gene, 529 repeat region and ITS1 region. A series of sensitivity tests were performed using parasite DNA, whole parasites, and spiked human body fluids. Specificity tests were performed using DNA from common protozoa and bacteria. The newly developed assay based on set 2 primers was found to be specific and sensitive. The test was capable of detecting as little as 10 pg T. gondii DNA, 10(4) tachyzoites in spiked body fluids, and T. gondii DNA in the organ tissues of experimentally infected mice. The assay developed in this study will be useful for the laboratory detection of T. gondii infection.
The protozoan Trichomonas vaginalis a sexually transmitted protozoan parasite causes vaginitis, urethritis and cervicitis in humans. The present study highlights phenotypic 'variant' forms of trophozoites isolated from patients suffering from cervical neoplasia condition. The growth curve of 10 isolates i.e., four non-cervical neoplasia (NCN) isolates (NCN1-NCN4) and six cervical neoplasia (CN) isolates (CN1-CN6) showed two distinct and different in vitro growth profiles. The parasite count and growth rates were significantly higher in trophozoites from CN isolates in cultures of day 2 up to day 8 (p<0.05, Mann-Whitney test). The average generation time was 1.84±0.40 and 3.38±0.55h for NCN and CN isolates respectively. The nucleus of trophozoites in CN isolates using acridine orange and DAPI showed more intense staining revealing higher nuclear content. The FITC-labeled Concanavalin A stained stronger green fluorescence with surface of trophozoites in CN isolates showing more rough and creased surface with numerous deep micropores. Transmission electron microscopy studies revealed that there was higher numbers of vacuoles and hydrogenosomes in these forms. The study mounted staining techniques, growth profiles, morphology, morphometry studies using scanning and transmission electron microscopy and confirms that the trophozoites from cervical neoplasia proliferates at a higher rate, shows higher FITC-labeled Concanavalin A binding with rough and creased surface implying that these are virulent forms which can aggravate or exacerbate cervical neoplasia conditions. The large numbers of hyrogenosomes and vacuoles implies that these forms are active and implicates a possible role in such conditions.
Toxoplasma gondii is an intra-cellular parasite that infects humans through vertical and horizontal transmission. The cysts remain dormant in the brain of infected humans and can reactivate in immunocompromised hosts resulting in acute toxoplasmic encephalitis which may be fatal. We determined the onset and progression of brain cysts generation in a mouse model following acute toxoplasmosis as well as the ability of brain cysts to reactivate in vitro. Male Balb/c mice, (uninfected control group, n = 10) were infected orally (study group, n = 50) with 1000 tachyzoites of T. gondii (ME49 strain) and euthanized at 1, 2, 4, 8 and 16 weeks post infection. Brain tissue was harvested, homogenized, stained and the number of brain cysts counted. Aliquots of brain homogenate with cysts were cultured in vitro with confluent Vero cells and the number of cysts and tachyzoites counted after 1 week. Brain cysts but not tachyzoites were detected at week 2 post infection and reached a plateau by week 4. In vitro Vero cells culture showed similar pattern for cysts and tachyzoites and reactivation of cyst in vitro was not influenced by the age of the brain cysts.
The full length surface antigen 2 (SAG2) gene of the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii was cloned and intracellularly expressed in the Pichia pastoris expression system. The molecular weight of the expressed recombinant SAG2 (36 kDa) was much larger than the native SAG2 (22 kDa). This discrepancy in size was due to hyperglycosylation, as deglycosylation assay reduced the size of the recombinant SAG2 to 22 kDa. Despite being hyperglycosylated, the recombinant SAG2 reacted strongly with pooled anti-Toxoplasma human serum, pooled anti-Toxoplasma mouse serum and a SAG2-specific monoclonal antibody. The glycosylated recombinant SAG2 was further evaluated in Western blot and in-house enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) using 80 human serum samples, including confirmed early acute (IgM positive, IgG negative; n=20), acute (IgM positive, IgG positive; n=20) and chronic (IgM negative, IgG positive; n=20) toxoplasmosis patients, and toxoplasmosis negative control patients (n=20). Results of the Western blot showed that the recombinant SAG2 reacted with all 60 samples of the toxoplasmosis cases but not with the Toxoplasma-negative samples. The sensitivity of in-house ELISA was 80%, 95% and 100% for early acute, acute and chronic patients' serum samples, respectively. Vaccination study showed that serum from mice immunised with the glycosylated recombinant SAG2 reacted specifically with the native SAG2 of T. gondii. The mice were significantly protected against lethal challenge with live T. gondii RH strain tachyzoites (P<0.01) and their survival time was increased compared to controls. Therefore, the present study shows that the P. pastoris-derived recombinant SAG2 was specific and suitable for use as antigen for detecting anti-Toxoplasma IgG and IgM antibodies. The vaccination study showed that recombinant SAG2 protein was immunoprotective in mice against lethal challenge.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, Diclofenac, targeting COX have shown promise in the treatment of Acanthamoeba keratitis, but the underlying mechanisms remain unknown. Using various NSAIDs, Diclofenac sodium, Indomethacin, and Acetaminophen, here we determined the effects of NSAIDs on the biological properties of Acanthamoeba castellanii belonging to the T4 genotype. Using amoebicidal assays, the results revealed that Diclofenac sodium, and Indomethacin affected growth of A. castellanii. In contrast, none of the compounds tested had any effect on the viability of A. castellanii. Importantly, all NSAIDs tested abolished A. castellanii encystation. This is a significant finding as the ability of amoebae to transform into the dormant cyst form presents a significant challenge in the successful treatment of infection. The NSAIDs inhibit production of cyclo-oxegenase, which regulates the synthesis of prostaglandins suggesting that cyclooxygenases (COX-1 and COX-2) and prostaglandins play significant role(s) in Acanthamoeba biology. As NSAIDs are routinely used in the clinical practice, these findings may help design improved preventative strategies and/or of therapeutic value to improve prognosis, when used in combination with other anti-amoebic drugs.
Chloroquine (CQ) and mefloquine (MQ) are no longer potent antimalarial drugs due to the emergence of resistant Plasmodium falciparum. Combination therapy has become the standard for many regimes in overcoming drug resistance. Roxithromycin (ROM), a known p-glycoprotein inhibitor, is reported to have antimalarial activity and it is hoped it will potentiate the effects of both CQ/MQ and reverse CQ/MQ-resistance. We assayed the effects of CQ and MQ individually and in combination with ROM on synchronized P. falciparum (Dd2 strain) cultures. The IC(50) values of CQ and MQ were 60.0+/-5.0 and 16.0+/-3.0 ng/ml; these were decreased substantially when combined with ROM. Isobolograms indicate that CQ-ROM combinations were relatively more synergistic (mean FICI 0.70) than MQ-ROM (mean FICI 0.85) with their synergistic effect at par with CQ-verapamil (VRP) (mean FICI 0.64) and MQ-VRP (mean FICI 0.60) combinations. We conclude that ROM potentiates the CQ/MQ response on multidrug-resistant P. falciparum.
The gene encoding the 195,000-Da major merozoite surface antigen (gp195) of the FUP (Uganda-Palo Alto) isolate of Plasmodium falciparum, a strain widely used for monkey vaccination experiments, has been cloned and sequenced. The translated amino acid sequence of the FUP gp195 protein is closely related to the sequences of corresponding proteins of the CAMP (Malaysia) and MAD-20 (Papua New Guinea) isolates and more distantly related to those of the Wellcome (West Africa) and K1 (Thailand) isolates, supporting the proposed allelic dimorphism of gp195 within the parasite population. The prevalence of dimorphic sequences within the gp195 protein suggests that many gp195 epitopes would be group-specific. Despite the extensive differences in amino acid sequence between gp195 proteins of these two groups, the hydropathy profiles of proteins representative of both groups are very similar. The conservation of overall secondary structure shown by the hydropathy profile comparison indicates that gp195 proteins of the various P. falciparum isolates are functionally equivalent. This information on the primary structure of the FUP gp195 protein will enable us to evaluate the possible roles of conserved, group-specific and variable epitopes in immunity to the blood stage of the malaria parasite.
Acanthamoeba species are pathogenic protozoa which account for amoebic keratitis, conjunctivitis and granulomatous amoebic encephalitis. These amoebae form cysts which resist drugs and more effective acanthamoebicidal agents are needed. Medicinal plants could be useful in improving the current treatment strategies for Acanthamoeba infections. In the present study, we examined the amoebicidal effects of Pericampylus glaucus (Lam.) Merr., a medicinal plant used for the treatment of conjunctivitis in Malaysia. Pathogenic Acanthamoeba triangularis were isolated from environmental water samples and treated with different concentrations of fractions obtained from Pericampylus glaucus (Lam.) Merr. as well as main constituents for 24-72 h. Chlorhexidine was used as a reference drug. Ethanol fraction of stem showed significant (p
Crocodiles exist in unsanitary environments, feed on rotten meat, are often exposed to heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, mercury, nickel, lead, selenium, tolerate high levels of radiation, and are amid the very few species to survive the catastrophic Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event, nonetheless they can live for up to a 100 years. Moreover, as they live in unhygienic conditions, they regularly come across pathogens. Logically, we postulate that crocodiles possess mechanisms to defend themselves from noxious agents as well as protecting themselves from pathogens. To test this hypothesis, various organ lysates and serum of Crocodylus palustris were prepared. Amoebicidal assays were performed using Acanthamoeba castellanii belonging to the T4 genotype. Cytotoxicity assays were performed using Prostate cancer cells culture by measuring lactate dehydrogenase release as a marker for cell death. Growth inhibition assays were performed to determine the growth inhibitory effects of various organ lysates. Serum and heart lysates of Crocodylus palustris exhibited powerful anti-tumor activity exhibiting more than 70% Prostate cancer cell death (P