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Discovery and Pharmacological Studies of 4‑Hydroxyphenyl-Derived Phosphonium Salts Active in a Mouse Model of Visceral Leishmaniasis

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posted on 2019-11-21, 19:33 authored by José Ignacio Manzano, Eduardo J. Cueto-Díaz, Ana Isabel Olías-Molero, Ana Perea, Tomás Herraiz, Juan J. Torrado, José María Alunda, Francisco Gamarro, Christophe Dardonville
We report the discovery of new 4-hydroxyphenyl phosphonium salt derivatives active in the submicromolar range (EC50 from 0.04 to 0.28 μM, SI > 10) against the protozoan parasite Leishmania donovani. The pharmacokinetics and in vivo oral efficacy of compound 1 [(16-(2,4-dihydroxyphenyl)-16-oxohexadecyl)­triphenylphosphonium bromide] in a mouse model of visceral leishmaniasis were established. Compound 1 reduced the parasite load in spleen (98.9%) and liver (95.3%) of infected mice after an oral dosage of four daily doses of 1.5 mg/kg. Mode of action studies showed that compound 1 diffuses across the plasma membrane, as designed, and targets the mitochondrion of Leishmania parasites. Disruption of the energetic metabolism, with a decrease of intracellular ATP levels as well as mitochondrial depolarization together with a significant reactive oxygen species production, contributes to the leishmanicidal effect of 1. Importantly, this compound was equally effective against antimonials and miltefosine-resistant clinical isolates of Leishmania infantum, indicating its potential as antileishmanial lead.