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The anti-leishmanial activity of dipeptide esters on Leishmania amazonensis amastigotes.

  • Ramazeilles, C
  • Juliano, L
  • Chagas, J R
  • Rabinovitch, M
Published Article
Publication Date
Apr 01, 1990
100 Pt 2
PMID: 2345655


L-Amino acid esters, such as L-Leu-OMe, kill Leishmania amazonensis amastigotes by a mechanism which appears to involve ester hydrolysis by cysteine proteinases located in the parasite megasomes. We have examined the killing of isolated amastigotes by L-dipeptide esters and derived some structure-activity correlations. Toxicity of the compounds for the parasites was measured by a tetrazolium (MTT) reduction assay. The results show that active dipeptide esters contained at least 1 hydrophobic amino acid (Leu, Ile, Val, Phe or Trp). The activity of homodipeptide methyl esters depended on the nature of the amino acid, as indicated by the following series: Phe-Phe-OMe greater than Val-Val-OMe greater than Leu-Leu-OMe greater than Trp-Trp-OMe greater than Ile-Ile-OMe. The nature of the amino acids in Leu-X-OMe and X-Leu-OMe was relatively unimportant when X was Phe, Trp or Val. However, when X was Ala or Gly, Leu-X-OMe was several-fold more active than X-Leu-OMe. A similar preference for the more hydrophobic residue in the amino terminal position was also found in esters containing a single phenylalanine or valine. Protection of the amino group by benzyloxycarbonyl (Z) or t-butyloxycarbonyl (BOC) substituents markedly enhanced the activity of the esters. An-mPhe-Gly-OEt, a retro-inverso analogue of Bz-Phe-Gly-OEt, was several-fold more active than the parent compound. Selected esters were assayed on infected macrophages and concentrations that induced minimal toxicity to the host cells were estimated. The ED50s for intracellular parasites were 1.5 to 5-fold higher than those for isolated amastigotes.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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