Maduramicin Rapidly Eliminates Malaria Parasites and Potentiates the Gametocytocidal Activity of the Pyrazoleamide PA21A050.

Therapeutic Approaches


New strategies targeting Plasmodium falciparum gametocytes, the sexual-stage parasites that are responsible for malaria transmission, are needed to eradicate this disease. Most commonly used antimalarials are ineffective against P. falciparum gametocytes, allowing patients to continue to be infectious for over a week after asexual parasite clearance. A recent screen for gametocytocidal compounds demonstrated that the carboxylic polyether ionophore maduramicin is active at low nanomolar concentrations against P. falciparum sexual stages. In this study, we showed that maduramicin has an EC50 (effective concentration that inhibits the signal by 50%) of 14.8 nM against late-stage gametocytes and significantly blocks in vivo transmission in a mouse model of malaria transmission. In contrast to other reported gametocytocidal agents, maduramicin acts rapidly in vitro, eliminating gametocytes and asexual schizonts in less than 12 h without affecting uninfected red blood cells (RBCs). Ring stage parasites are cleared by 24 h. Within an hour of drug treatment, 40% of the normally crescent-shaped gametocytes round up and become spherical. The number of round gametocytes increases to >60% by 2 h, even before a change in membrane potential as monitored by MitoProbe DiIC1 (5) is detectable. Maduramicin is not preferentially taken up by gametocyte-infected RBCs compared to uninfected RBCs, suggesting that gametocytes are more sensitive to alterations in cation concentration than RBCs. Moreover, the addition of 15.6 nM maduramicin enhanced the gametocytocidal activity of the pyrazoleamide PA21A050, which is a promising new antimalarial candidate associated with an increase in intracellular Na(+) concentration that is proposed to be due to inhibition of PfATP4, a putative Na(+) pump. These results underscore the importance of cation homeostasis in sexual as well as asexual intraerythrocytic-stage P. falciparum parasites and the potential of targeting this pathway for drug development.


Maron, Maxim I; Magle, Crystal T; Czesny, Beata; Turturice, Benjamin A; Huang, Ruili; Zheng, Wei; Vaidya, Akhil B; Williamson, Kim C;

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