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In vitro effects of folate inhibitors on Toxoplasma gondii.

  • F Derouin
  • C Chastang
Publication Date
Oct 01, 1989
  • Biology
  • Pharmacology


Three sulfonamides and four dihydrofolate reductase inhibitors were tested alone and in combination to determine their in vitro effects on two strains of Toxoplasma gondii grown in MRC5 fibroblast tissue culture. Toxoplasma growth was quantitated by an enzyme immunoassay performed directly on the fixed cultures, and linear regression models were used to quantify the relationship between the optical density values generated by the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and the concentrations of the antimicrobial agents in the culture medium. The cytopathic effects of antimicrobial agents on T. gondii were examined in Giemsa-stained cultures. Sulfonamides and dihydrofolate reductase inhibitors exhibited similar patterns of inhibition, consisting of an important increase of the inhibitory effect within a narrow range of concentrations. Sulfadiazine, sulfamethoxazole, and sulfisoxazole were all found to have important inhibitory effects on T. gondii; the 50% inhibitory concentrations estimated from the regression models were 2.5 micrograms/ml for sulfadiazine, 1.1 micrograms/ml for sulfamethoxazole, and 6.4 micrograms/ml for sulfisoxazole. This inhibition of growth was associated with a reduction of the number of parasitized cells and intracellular parasites that were morphologically normal. With dihydrofolate reductase inhibitors, including pyrimethamine, trimethoprim, trimetrexate-glycuronate, and piritrexim, a strong inhibition of Toxoplasma growth was observed, which was associated with striking morphological changes of the parasites. The 50% inhibitory concentrations were 0.04 microgram/ml for pyrimethamine, 2.3 micrograms/ml for trimethoprim, 0.16 ng/ml for trimetrexate-glycuronate, and 6.9 ng/ml for piritrexim. When sulfonamides and dihydrofolate reductase inhibitors were used in combination, a synergistic effect was observed with sulfadiazine combined with pyrimethamine, trimetrexate-glycuronate, and piritrexim; sulfisoxazole combined with pyrimethamine; and trimethoprim combined with sulfamethoxazole. These results were analyzed in comparison with human pharmacokinetics data.

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