European journal of medicinal chemistry

Prospects of an alternative treatment against Trypanosoma cruzi based on abietic acid derivatives show promising results in Balb/c mouse model.

PMID 25462275


Chagas disease, caused by the protozoa parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, is an example of extended parasitaemia with unmet medical needs. Current treatments based on old-featured benznidazole (Bz) and nifurtimox are expensive and do not fulfil the criteria of effectiveness, and a lack of toxicity devoid to modern drugs. In this work, a group of abietic acid derivatives that are chemically stable and well characterised were introduced as candidates for the treatment of Chagas disease. In vitro and in vivo assays were performed in order to test the effectiveness of these compounds. Finally, those which showed the best activity underwent additional studies in order to elucidate the possible mechanism of action. In vitro results indicated that some compounds have low toxicity (i.e. >150 μM, against Vero cell) combined with high efficacy (i.e. <20 μM) against some forms of T. cruzi. Further in vivo studies on mice models confirmed the expectations of improvements in infected mice. In vivo tests on the acute phase gave parasitaemia inhibition values higher those of Bz, and a remarkable decrease in the reactivation of parasitaemia was found in the chronic phase after immunosuppression of the mice treated with one of the compounds. The morphological alterations found in treated parasites with our derivatives confirmed extensive damage; energetic metabolism disturbances were also registered by (1)H NMR. The demonstrated in vivo activity and low toxicity, together with the use of affordable starting products and the lack of synthetic complexity, put these abietic acid derivatives in a remarkable position toward the development of an anti-Chagasic agent.