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.
Primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), a deadly brain infection, is caused by brain-eating amoeba Naegleria fowleri. The current first line of treatment against PAM is a mixture of amphotericin B, rifampin, and miltefosine. Since, no single effective drug has been developed so far, the mortality rate is above 95%. Moreover, severe adverse side effects are associated with these drugs. Nanotechnology has provided several advances in biomedical applications especially in drug delivery and diagnosis. Herein, for the first time we report antiamoebic properties of cinnamic acid (CA) and gold nanoparticles conjugated with CA (CA-AuNPs) against N. fowleri. CA-AuNPs were successfully synthesized by sodium borohydride reduction of tetrachloroauric acid. Size and morphology were determined by atomic force microscopy (AFM) while the surface plasmon resonance band was analyzed by ultraviolet-visible (UV-vis) spectrophotometry for the characterization of the nanoparticles. Amoebicidal and cytopathogenicity (host cell cytotoxicity) assays revealed that both CA and CA-AuNPs displayed significant anti- N. fowleri properties ( P < 0.05), whereas nanoparticles conjugation further enhanced the anti- N. fowleri effects of CA. This study established a potential drug lead, while CA-AuNPs appear to be promising candidate for drug discovery against PAM.
Central nervous system (CNS) infections caused by free-living amoebae such as Acanthamoeba species and Naegleria fowleri are rare but fatal. A major challenge in the treatment against the infections caused by these amoebae is the discovery of novel compounds that can effectively cross the blood-brain barrier to penetrate the CNS. It is logical to test clinically approved drugs against CNS diseases for their potential antiamoebic effects since they are known for effective blood-brain barrier penetration and affect eukaryotic cell targets. The antiamoebic effects of clinically available drugs for seizures targeting gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA) receptor and ion channels were tested against Acanthamoeba castellanii belonging to the T4 genotype and N. fowleri. Three such drugs, namely, diazepam (Valium), phenobarbitone (Luminal), phenytoin (Dilantin), and their silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) were evaluated against both trophozoites and cysts stage. Drugs alone and drug conjugated silver nanoparticles were tested for amoebicidal, cysticidal, and host-cell cytotoxicity assays. Nanoparticles were synthesized by sodium borohydride reduction of silver nitrate with drugs as capping agents. Drug conjugated nanoconjugates were characterized by ultraviolet-visible (UV-vis) and Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopies and atomic force microscopy (AFM). In vitro moebicidal assay showed potent amoebicidal effects for diazepam, phenobarbitone, and phenytoin-conjugated AgNPs as compared to drugs alone against A. castellanii and N. fowleri. Furthermore, both drugs and drug conjugated AgNPs showed compelling cysticidal effects. Drugs conjugations with silver nanoparticles enhanced their antiacanthamoebic activity. Interestingly, amoeba-mediated host-cell cytotoxicity was also significantly reduced by drugs alone as well as their nanoconjugates. Since, these drugs are being used to target CNS diseases, their evaluation against brain-eating amoebae seems feasible due to advantages such as permeability of the blood-brain barrier, established pharmacokinetics and dynamics, and United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. Given the limited availability of effective drugs against brain-eating amoebae, the clinically available drugs tested here present potential for further in vivo studies.
Brain-eating amoebae (Acanthamoeba spp., Balamuthia mandrillaris, and Naegleria fowleri) can cause opportunistic infections involving the central nervous system. It is troubling that the mortality rate is more than 90% despite advances in antimicrobial chemotherapy over the last few decades. Here, we describe urgent key priorities for improving outcomes from infections due to brain-eating amoebae.
The overall aim of this study was to determine whether conjugation with silver nanoparticles enhances effects of available drugs against primary amoebic meningoencephalitis due to Naegleria fowleri. Amphotericin B, Nystatin, and Fluconazole were conjugated with silver nanoparticles, and synthesis was confirmed using UV-visible spectrophotometry. Atomic force microscopy determined their size in range of 20-100 nm. To determine amoebicidal effects, N. fowleri were incubated with drugs-conjugated silver nanoparticles, silver nanoparticles alone, and drugs alone. The findings revealed that silver nanoparticles conjugation significantly enhanced antiamoebic effects of Nystatin and Amphotericin B but not Fluconazole at micromolar concentrations, compared with the drugs alone. For the first time, our findings showed that silver nanoparticle conjugation enhances efficacy of antiamoebic drugs against N. fowleri. Given the rarity of the disease and challenges in developing new drugs, it is hoped that modifying existing drugs to enhance their antiamoebic effects is a useful avenue that holds promise in improving the treatment of brain-eating amoebae infection due to N. fowleri.
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.