Naegleria fowleri is a protist pathogen that can cause lethal brain infection. Despite decades of research, the mortality rate related with primary amoebic meningoencephalitis owing to N. fowleri remains more than 90%. The amoebae pass through the nose to enter the central nervous system killing the host within days, making it one of the deadliest opportunistic parasites. Accordingly, we present an up to date review of the biology and pathogenesis of N. fowleri and discuss needs for future research against this fatal infection.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Acanthamoeba spp. and Balamuthia mandrillaris are causative agents of granulomatous amoebic encephalitis (GAE), while Naegleria fowleri causes primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). PAM is an acute infection that lasts a few days, while GAE is a chronic to subacute infection that can last up to several months. Here, we present a literature review of 86 case reports from 1968 to 2016, in order to explore the affinity of these amoebae for particular sites of the brain, diagnostic modalities, treatment options, and disease outcomes in a comparative manner.
Brain-eating amoebae (Acanthamoeba spp., Balamuthia mandrillaris, Naegleria fowleri) have gained increasing attention owing to their capacity to produce severe human and animal infections involving the brain. Early detection is a pre-requisite in successful prognosis. Here, we developed a nanoPCR assay for the rapid detection of brain-eating amoebae using various nanoparticles. Graphene oxide, copper and alumina nanoparticles used in this study were characterized using Raman spectroscopy measurements through excitation with a He-Ne laser, while powder X-ray diffraction patterns were taken on a PANanalytical, X'Pert HighScore diffractometer and the morphology of the materials was confirmed using high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM). Using nanoparticle-assisted PCR, the results revealed that graphene oxide, copper oxide and alumina nanoparticles significantly enhanced PCR efficiency in the detection of pathogenic free-living amoebae using genus-specific probes. The optimal concentration of graphene oxide, copper oxide and alumina nanoparticles for Acanthamoeba spp. was determined at 0.4, 0.04 and 0.4 μg per mL respectively. For B. mandrillaris, the optimal concentration was determined at 0.4 μg per mL for graphene oxide, copper oxide and alumina nanoparticles, and for Naegleria, the optimal concentration was 0.04, 4.0 and 0.04 μg per mL respectively. Moreover, combinations of these nanoparticles proved to further enhance PCR efficiency. The addition of metal oxide nanoparticles leads to excellent surface effect, while thermal conductivity property of the nanoparticles enhances PCR productivity. These findings suggest that nanoPCR assay has tremendous potential in the clinical diagnosis of parasitic infections as well as for studying epidemiology and pathology and environmental monitoring of other microbes.
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.
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.
Matched MeSH terms: Naegleria fowleri/drug effects*; Naegleria fowleri/growth & development
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.
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.
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.
Naegleria fowleri causes a deadly infection known as primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). To our knowledge, there are very few transcriptome studies conducted on these brain-eating amoebae, despite rise in the number of cases. Although the Naegleria genome has been sequenced, currently, it is not well annotated. Transcriptome level studies are needed to help understand the pathology and biology of this fatal parasitic infection. Recently, we showed that nanoparticles loaded with the flavonoid Hesperidin (HDN) are potential novel antimicrobial agents. N. fowleri trophozoites were treated with and without HDN-conjugated with silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) and silver only, and then, 50% minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) was determined. The results revealed that the MIC of HDN-conjugated AgNPs was 12.5 microg/mL when treated for 3 h. As no reference genome exists for N. fowleri, de novo RNA transcriptome analysis using RNA-Seq and differential gene expression analysis was performed using the Trinity software. Analysis revealed that more than 2000 genes were differentially expressed in response to N. fowleri treatment with HDN-conjugated AgNPs. Some of the genes were linked to oxidative stress response, DNA repair, cell division, cell signalling and protein synthesis. The downregulated genes were linked with processes such as protein modification, synthesis of aromatic amino acids, when compared with untreated N. fowleri. Further transcriptome studies will lead to understanding of genetic mechanisms of the biology and pathogenesis and/or the identification of much needed drug candidates.
Naegleria fowleri (N. fowleri) causes primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) which almost always results in death. N. fowleri is also known as "brain-eating amoeba" due to its literal infestation of the brain leading to an inflammatory response in the brain tissues. Currently, there is no single drug that is available to treat PAM, and most treatments are combinations of antifungal, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory drugs. Recently nanotechnology has gained attention in chemotherapeutic research converging on drug delivery, while oleic acid (OA) has shown positive effects on the human immune system and inflammatory processes. In continuation of our recent research in which we reported the effects of oleic acid conjugated with silver nanoparticles (OA-AgNPs) against free-living amoeba Acanthamoeba castellanii, in this report, we show their antiamoebic effects against N. fowleri. OA alone and its nanoconjugates were tested against the amoeba by using amoebicidal and host cell cytopathogenicity assays. Trypan blue exclusion assay was used to determine cell viability. The results revealed that OA-AgNPs exhibited significantly enhanced antiamoebic effects (P < 0.05) against N. fowleri as compared to OA alone. Evidently, lactate dehydrogenase release shows reduced N. fowleri-mediated host cell cytotoxicity. Based on our study, we anticipate that further studies on OA-AgNPs could potentially provide an alternative treatment of PAM.
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.
Brain-eating amoebae including Acanthamoeba spp., Naegleria fowleri, and Balamuthia mandrillaris cause rare infections of the central nervous system that almost always result in death. The high mortality rate, lack of interest for drug development from pharmaceutical industries, and no available effective drugs present an alarming challenge. The current drugs employed in the management and therapy of these devastating diseases are amphotericin B, miltefosine, chlorhexidine, pentamidine, and voriconazole which are generally used in combination. However, clinical evidence shows that these drugs have limited efficacy and high host cell cytotoxicity. Repurposing of drugs is a practical approach to utilize commercially available, U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved drugs for one disease against rare diseases caused by brain-eating amoebae. In this Perspective, we highlight some of the success stories of drugs repositioned against neglected parasitic diseases and identify future potential for effective and sustainable drug development against brain-eating amoebae infections.
Naegleria fowleri is a free-living amoeba, known as a causative agent for a fatal disease of the central nervous system (CNS) in man such as Primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). Factors contributing to its pathogenicity and its distribution in the environment have been investigated by previous researchers. In case of its pathogenicity, several enzymes such as phospolipase A and sphingomyelinase, have been proposed to probably act as aggressors in promoting PAM but no study so far have been conducted to investigate the presence of proteinase enzyme in this amoeba although a 56kDa cystein proteinase enzyme has been identified in Entamoeba histolytica as an important contributing factor in the amoeba's virulence. In this preliminary study, a pathogenic amoeba, Naegleria fowleri (strain NF3) was examined for the presence of proteinases. Samples of enzymes in this amoeba were analysed by electrophoresis using SDS-PAGE-gelatin gels. The results showed that this amoeba possesses at least two high molecular weight proteinases on gelatin gels; their apparent molecular weights are approximately 128 kDa and approximately 170 kDa. Band of approximately 128 kDa enzyme is membrane-associated and its activity is higher at alkaline pH compared with lower pH; at lower pH, its activity is greatly stimulated by DTT. The approximately 170 kDa band enzyme appears to be inactivated at pH 8.0, at lower ph its activity is higher and DTT-dependance. The activity of this enzyme is partially inhibited by inhibitor E-64 but markedly inhibited to antipain suggesting it belongs to the cysteine proteinase group.