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Malaria journal

Parasitostatic effect of maslinic acid. II. Survival increase and immune protection in lethal Plasmodium yoelii-infected mice.


PMID 21518429

Abstract

The anti-malarial activity of maslinic acid (MA), a natural triterpene which has been previously shown to exert a parasitostatic action on Plasmodium falciparum cultures, was analysed in vivo by using the Plasmodium yoelii 17XL murine model. ICR mice were infected with P. yoelii and treated with a single dose of MA by a intraperitoneal injection of MA (40 mg kg(-1) day(-1)) followed by identical dose administration for the following three days. Parasitaemia and accumulation of intraerythrocytic stages was monitored microscopically. To assess protective immunity, cured mice were challenged with the same dose of parasites 40 days after recovery from the primary infection and parasitaemia was further monitored for 30 days. Humoral response was tested by ELISA and visualization of specific anti-P. yoelii antibodies was performed by Western-blotting. ICR mice treated with MA increased the survival rate from 20% to 80%, showing an arrest of parasite maturation from day 3 to 7 after infection and leading to synchronization of the intraerythrocytic cycle and accumulation of schizonts by day 6, proving that MA also behaves as a parasitostatic agent in vivo. Mice which survived the primary infection displayed lower rates of parasitic growth, showing a decline of parasitaemia after day 15, and complete clearance at day 20. These mice remained immunoprotected, showing not malaria symptoms or detectable parasitaemia after rechallenge with the same lethal strain. The analysis of specific antibodies against P. yoelii, present in mice which survived the infection, showed a significant increase in the number and intensity of immunoreactive proteins, suggesting that the protected mice may trigger a strong humoral response. The survival increase observed in MA-treated mice can be explained considering that the parasitostatic effect exerted by this compound during the first days of infection increases the chances to develop effective innate and/or acquired immune responses. MA may represent a new class of anti-malarial compounds which, as a consequence of its parasitostatic action, favours the development of more effective sterilizing immune responses.

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