Acta tropica

A flow cytometer-based method to simultaneously assess activity and selectivity of compounds against the intracellular forms of Trypanosoma cruzi.

PMID 26272680


Chagas disease is a major unsolved health issue in Latin America and an emerging threat worldwide. New drugs are urgently needed for chemotherapy as those available (benznidazole and nifurtimox) have variable efficacy and elevated toxicity. Efforts are actually oriented to improve tools and technologies (e.g. transgenic parasites, flow cytometry or image-based systems) for the screening of large numbers of candidate compounds for their activity against Trypanosoma cruzi (T. cruzi). Methods that test drug efficacy and selectivity in the same assay are suitable to accelerate the process of drug discovery. Here, we developed a GFP expressing T. cruzi from a moderate virulence stock and confirmed that the transgenic parasite retained the biological characteristics of the parental strain. With this tool, we established a flow cytometer-based method to simultaneously test drug activity against intracellular amastigotes and toxicity to the host cell. This one-step procedure allows determining the selectivity index of the tested compound in a sensitive and accurate manner even with low infection rates. This method can provide additional information on the interactions between drug, parasites and host cell and could be adapted to other trypanosomatids and protozoa with intracellular multiplication.