Acanthamoeba, one of free-living amoebae (FLA), remains a high risk of direct contact with this protozoan parasite which is ubiquitous in nature and man-made environment. This pathogenic FLA can cause sight-threatening amoebic keratitis (AK) and fatal granulomatous amoebic encephalitis (GAE) though these cases may not commonly be reported in our clinical settings. Acanthamoeba has been detected from different environmental sources namely; soil, water, hot-spring, swimming pool, air-conditioner, or contact lens storage cases. The identification of Acanthamoeba is based on morphological appearance and molecular techniques using PCR and DNA sequencing for clinico-epidemiological purposes. Recent treatments have long been ineffective against Acanthamoeba cyst, novel anti-Acanthamoeba agents have therefore been extensively investigated. There are efforts to utilize synthetic chemicals, lead compounds from medicinal plant extracts, and animal products to combat Acanthamoeba infection. Applied nanotechnology, an advanced technology, has shown to enhance the anti-Acanthamoeba activity in the encapsulated nanoparticles leading to new therapeutic options. This review attempts to provide an overview of the available data and studies on the occurrence of pathogenic Acanthamoeba among the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members with the aim of identifying some potential contributing factors such as distribution, demographic profile of the patients, possible source of the parasite, mode of transmission and treatment. Further, this review attempts to provide future direction for prevention and control of the Acanthamoeba infection.
Entamoeba histolytica (E. histolytica), the causative agent of amoebiasis, is still a global public health problem that cannot be controlled, especially in tropical and subtropical countries. This study was conducted to obtain information about the incidence of Entamoeba histolytica/dispar/ moshkovskii complex infection and the factors that influence it. The prevalence of infection with the Entamoeba histolytica/dispar/moshkovskii complex and the factors that influence it in people living on the smallest and outermost island of Indonesia, Sabang Island, Aceh Province. This study involved 335 respondents aged >= 10 years. Respondents were selected by non-probability sampling technique. Interviews and observations were conducted to identify risk factors. The Entamoeba histolytica/dispar/ moshkovskii complex was identified by direct examination, concentration, and Whitley's trichrome staining techniques. A Chi-Square test was performed to analyze the correlation of risk factors with the incidence of infection. The prevalence of infection with the Entamoeba histolytica/dispar/ moshkovskii complex in the people of Sabang Island was 26.6% (89/335). Source and adequacy of clean water correlated with the incidence of Entamoeba histolytica/dispar/moshkovskii complex infection. Demographic variables are not correlated with the incidence of infection. However, the group of women aged > 61 years, unemployed, unmarried, and earning less than the regional minimum wage tend to be more likely to be found with Entamoeba histolytica/dispar/moshkovskii complex infections. Thus it can be concluded that the prevalence of infection with the Entamoeba histolytica/dispar/moshkovskii complex on Sabang Island is in the high category. The prevalence of E. histolytica as the causative agent of amoebiasis cannot be explained with certainty because the two identical non-pathogenic Entamoeba species cannot be distinguished by microscopic identification. Sources and adequacy of clean water correlate with the incidence of Entamoeba histolytica/dispar/moshkovskii complex infection in the people of Sabang Island.
Is Acanthamoeba sp. normally found in the eyes? A study was carried out to establish the possibility of Acanthamoeba sp. as a part of the normal conjunctival flora. Conjunctiva swabbing were carried out in 286 healthy Orang Asli school children using sterile cotton swab. The swab was then inoculated onto non-nutrient agar (NN-A). Heat killed Escherichia coli that was used as food source for the growth of the amoebae was pipetted onto and away from the smear. The plates were incubated at 30 degrees C and examined daily using an inverted microscope for 14 days. Morphology of the trophozoites and cysts of the amoebae were used as the taxonomic criteria for identification. Positive-controls and negative-controls were done to check for the consistency of the technique used and monitoring of contamination respectively. None of the conjunctiva swab cultured was positive for Acanthamoeba sp. This finding may indicate that Acanthamoeba sp. is not part of normal conjunctival flora or conjunctiva swab is an insensitive technique to isolate the organism. However, a more extensive research is needed to investigate these possibilities.
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.
Entamoeba histolytica is the parasite responsible for amoebiasis, which can result in amoebic colitis or amoebic liver abscess. Metronidazole has been the conventional treatment for intestinal amoebiasis, but concerns regarding resistance have emerged due to the identification of resistance pathways in E. histolytica. This study investigates a novel anti-amoebic approach targeting the CDP-choline pathway. Inhibition studies were conducted using potential choline kinase (CK) inhibitors to inhibit the EhCK enzyme, and RNA interference was employed to knock down the EhCK gene. Km and Vmax of purified EhCK and hCKa2 proteins were determined by pyruvate kinase-lactate dehydrogenase (PK-LDH) coupled assay. The IC50 values for EhCK and hCKa2 were determined with several commercial CK inhibitors. Selected inhibitors were incubated with E. histolytica trophozoites for 48 hours to determine the EC50 for each inhibitor. Silencing of gene encoding EhCK was carried out using duplex siRNA and the gene expression level was measured by real-time qPCR. Based on the IC50 values, three of the inhibitors, namely CK37, flavopiridol and H-89 were more potent against EhCK than hCKa2. Trophozoites growth inhibition showed that only HDTAB, H-89 and control drug metronidazole could penetrate and induce cell death after 48-hour incubation. siRNA concentration of 10 µg/mL was used for the transfection of positive control GAPDH, EhCK, and non-targeting GFP siRNAs. RNAi experiment concluded with positive control GAPDH downregulated by 99% while the level of EhCK mRNA was downregulated by 47%. In this study, potential inhibitors of EhCK and siRNA have been identified, paving the way for further refinement and testing to enhance their potency against EhCK while sparing hCK. The utilization of these specific inhibitors and siRNA targeting EhCK represents a novel approach to impede the growth of E. histolytica by disrupting its phospholipid synthesis pathway.
The free living Acanthamoeba spp. are ubiquitous amoebae associated with potentially blinding disease known as Acanthamoeba keratitis (AK) and a fatal central nervous system infection granulomatous amoebic encephalitis (GAE). With the inherent ability of cellular differentiation, it can phenotypically transform to a dormant cyst form from an active trophozoite form. Acanthamoeba cysts are highly resistant to therapeutic agents as well as contact lens cleaning solutions. One way to tackle drug resistance against Acanthamoeba is by inhibiting the formation of cysts from trophozoites. The biochemical analysis showed that the major component of Acanthamoeba cyst wall is composed of carbohydrate moieties such as galactose and glucose. The disaccharide of galactose and glucose is lactose. In this study, we analyzed the potential of lactase enzyme to target carbohydrate moieties of cyst walls. Amoebicidal assessment showed that lactase was ineffective against trophozoite of A. castellanii but enhanced amoebicidal effects of chlorhexidine. The lactase enzyme did not show any toxicity against normal human keratinocyte cells (HaCaT) at the tested range. Hence, lactase can be used for further assessment for development of potential therapeutic agents in the management of Acanthamoeba infection as well as formulation of effective contact lens disinfectants.
Fulminant necrotising amoebic colitis is a complication of untreated amoebiasis. This is seen in mainly low-income countries. It has a high mortality rate and is difficult to diagnose. We present an extremely rare case of fulminant necrotising amoebic colitis that caused diagnostic confusion in mimicking an acute abdomen, presumably caused by a perforated duodenal ulcer.
Granulomatous amoebic encephalitis due to Acanthamoeba is a chronic disease that almost always results in death. Hematogenous spread is a pre-requisite followed by amoebae invasion of the blood-brain barrier to enter the central nervous system. Given the systemic nature of this infection, a significant latent period of several months before the appearance of clinical manifestations is puzzling. Based on reported cases, here we propose pathogenetic mechanisms that explain the above described latency of the disease.
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.
Amebiasis is a frequently occurring parasitic infection in South East Asia. We present a case of a 54-year-old man with right lower quadrant abdominal pain that persisted for longer than 1 year. He had been diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease in Indonesia. His abdominal pain persisted, despite therapy, and he visited Malaysia for transnational medical advice. Abdominal ultrasound showed fatty liver, gallbladder polyps, and a small left renal stone. Colonoscopy showed multiple ulcers in the cecum and a histopathological examination confirmed amebic infection of the cecum. The colonic ulcers subsided after anti-amebic treatment. This case highlights the need to consider the differential diagnosis of amebic colitis in patients presenting with manifestations of inflammatory bowel disease, especially in patients who live in or have traveled to endemic areas.
Pathogenic free-living amoebae including Acanthamoeba spp., Balamuthia mandrillaris, and Naegleria fowleri cause infections of the central nervous system (CNS), which almost always prove fatal. The mortality rate is high with the CNS infections caused by these microbes despite modern developments in healthcare and antimicrobial chemotherapy. The low awareness, delayed diagnosis, and lack of effective drugs are major hurdles to overcome these challenges. Nanomaterials have emerged as vital tools for concurrent diagnosis and therapy, which are commonly referred to as theranostics. Nanomaterials offer highly sensitive diagnostic systems and viable therapeutic effects as a single modality. There has been good progress to develop nanomaterials based efficient theranostic systems against numerous kinds of tumors, but this field is yet immature in the context of infectious diseases, particularly parasitic infections. Herein, we describe the potential value of theranostic applications of nanomaterials against brain infections due to pathogenic amoebae.
Independent evaluations of XEh Rapid®, an IgG4-based rapid dipstick test, were performed to assess its diagnostic performance to detect amebic liver abscess (ALA) using 405 samples at seven laboratories in four countries. The test showed high diagnostic specificity (97-100%) when tested with samples from healthy individuals (n = 100) and patients with other diseases (n = 151). The diagnostic sensitivity was tested with a total of 154 samples, and the results were variable. It was high in three laboratories (89-94%), and moderate (72%) and low (38%) in two other laboratories. Challenges and issues faced in the evaluation process are discussed. Nevertheless, XEh Rapid is promising to be developed into a point-of-care test in particular for resource-limited settings, and thus merits further confirmation of its diagnostic sensitivity.
Acanthamoeba spp. are protist pathogens and causative agents of serious infections including keratitis and granulomatous amoebic encephalitis. Its ability to convert into dormant and highly resistant cysts form limits effectiveness of available therapeutic agents and presents a pivotal challenge for drug development. During the cyst stage, Acanthamoeba is protected by the presence of hardy cyst walls, comprised primarily of carbohydrates and cyst-specific proteins, hence synthesis inhibition and/or degradation of cyst walls is of major interest. This review focuses on targeting of Acanthamoeba cysts by identifying viable therapeutic targets.
trans-Cinnamic acid (CA) is a natural organic compound. Using amoebicidal assays, for the first time we showed that CA affected the viability of the protist pathogen Acanthamoeba castellanii Conjugation with gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) enhanced the antiamoebic effects of CA. CA-coated AuNPs (CA-AuNPs) also exhibited significant excystation and encystation activity, compared to CA and AuNPs alone. Pretreatment of amoebae with CA-AuNPs inhibited A. castellanii-mediated host cell cytotoxicity. Moreover, CA-AuNPs exhibited potent effects against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and neuropathogenic Escherichia coli K1 and protected host cells against bacteria-mediated host cell death.
Acanthamoeba castellanii is a free-living amoeba which can cause a blinding keratitis and fatal granulomatous amoebic encephalitis. The treatment of Acanthamoeba infections is challenging due to formation of cyst. Quinazolinones are medicinally important scaffold against parasitic diseases. A library of nineteen new 3-aryl-6,7-dimethoxyquinazolin-4(3H)-one derivatives was synthesized to evaluate their antiamoebic activity against Acanthamoeba castellanii. One-pot synthesis of 3-aryl-6,7-dimethoxyquinazolin-4(3H)-ones (1-19) was achieved by reaction of 2-amino-4,5-dimethoxybenzoic acid, trimethoxymethane, and different substituted anilines. These compounds were purified and characterized by standard chromatographic and spectroscopic techniques. Antiacanthamoebic activity of these compounds was determined by amoebicidal, encystation, excystation and host cell cytopathogenicity in vitro assays at concentrations of 50 and 100 μg/mL. The IC50 was found to be between 100 and 50 μg/mL for all the compounds except compound 5 which did not exhibit amoebicidal effects at these concentrations. Furthermore, lactate dehydrogenase assay was also performed to evaluate the in vitro cytotoxicity of these compounds against human keratinocyte (HaCaT) cells. The results revealed that eighteen out of nineteen derivatives of quinazolinones significantly decreased the viability of A. castellanii. Furthermore, eighteen out of nineteen tested compounds inhibited the encystation and excystation, as well as significantly reduced the A. castellanii-mediated cytopathogenicity against human cells. Interestingly, while tested against human normal cell line HaCaT keratinocytes, all compounds did not exhibit any overt cytotoxicity. Furthermore, a detailed structure-activity relationship is also studied to optimize the most potent hit from these synthetic compounds. This report presents several potential lead compounds belonging to 3-aryl-6,7-dimethoxyquinazolin-4(3H)-one derivatives for drug discovery against infections caused by Acanthamoeba castellanii.