Anthelmintic and in particular macrocyclic lactone (ML) resistance is a widespread problem in trichostrongyloid parasitic nematodes, yet mechanisms of ML resistance are still poorly understood. In the absence of target-site changes in resistant parasite field populations, increased drug extrusion and xenobiotic metabolism have been implicated in modification of susceptibility to MLs. In addition to P-glycoproteins, cytochrome P450 monooxygenases (CYPs) were considered to be involved in ML resistance. CYPs are highly divergent in nematodes with about 80 genes in the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans. Using larval development assays in the C. elegans model, piperonyl butoxide (PBO) and a temperature-sensitive variant of the emb-8 cytochrome reductase were used for chemical and genetic ablation of CYP activity. Additionally, a loss-of-function variant of cyp-14A5 was characterized to determine whether increased expression of this CYP in an ivermectin (IVM)-tolerant C. elegans line might be related to the phenotype. In a preliminary experiment with PBO, susceptibility to 5 nM IVM was synergistically increased by PBO. However, effects of genetic ablation of CYP activity on the EC50 values were small (1.5-fold decrease) for IVM and not significant for moxidectin (MOX). However, due to the steep concentration-response-curves, there were again strong differences between the wild-type and the CYP deficient genotype at individual IVM but not MOX concentrations. Although these results suggest small but significant effects on the susceptibility level of C. elegans to IVM, the cyp14A5 gene proposed by a previous study as candidate was ruled out since it was neither IVM/MOX inducible nor did a strain with a loss-of-function allele show increased susceptibility to either drug. In conclusion, the effect of the CYP system on IVM susceptibility in C. elegans is at best low while effects on MOX susceptibility were not detected. The previously suggested candidate cyp14A5 could be excluded to be involved in ML metabolism.
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