The pharmacological inhibition of sterol biosynthesis in Leishmania is counteracted by enhancement of LDL endocytosis.
ABSTRACT Leishmania parasites, despite being able to synthesize their own sterols, acquire and accumulate significant amounts of cholesterol through low density lipoprotein (LDL) particle endocytosis. The role of this system in Leishmania amazonensis promastigotes under pharmacological pressure by sterol biosynthesis inhibitors (SBIs) was investigated. First, thin layer chromatography demonstrated that L. amazonensis promastigotes, in response to ergosterol biosynthesis inhibition by treatment with 4.0 and 6.0 μM ketoconazole or miconazole, accumulate up to two times more cholesterol than controls. The treatment of promastigotes with ketoconazole and simvastatin, two SBIs with non-related mechanisms of action, showed that both drugs induce increases in (125)I-LDL endocytosis in a dose-dependent manner, indicating that the accumulation of exogenous cholesterol is due to the enhancement of LDL uptake. Finally, it was demonstrated that L. amazonensis promastigotes were rendered more susceptible to treatment with SBIs (ketoconazole, miconazole, simvastatin and terbinafine) in the absence of exogenous cholesterol sources, with a reduction of the IC50s of about 50% in three of the four tested drugs. These results show that the exogenous cholesterol uptake system in L. amazonensis plays a role as a compensatory mechanism in response to the presence of SBIs, suggesting that it may be a potential pharmacological target.
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ABSTRACT: Leishmania species are the causative agents of the leishmaniases, a spectrum of neglected tropical diseases. Amastigote stage parasites exist within macrophages and scavenge host factors for survival, for example, Leishmania species utilise host sphingolipid for synthesis of complex sphingolipid. In this study L. mexicana endocytosis was shown to be significantly upregulated in amastigotes, indicating that sphingolipid scavenging may be enhanced. However, inhibition of host sphingolipid biosynthesis had no significant effect on amastigote proliferation within a macrophage cell line. In addition, infection itself did not directly influence host biosynthesis. Notably, in contrast to L. major, L. mexicana amastigotes are indicated to possess a complete biosynthetic pathway suggesting that scavenged sphingolipids may be nonessential for proliferation. This suggested that Old and New World species differ in their interactions with the macrophage host. This will need to be considered when targeting the Leishmania sphingolipid biosynthetic pathway with novel therapeutics.Biochemistry research international. 01/2012; 2012:691363.