[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Among promising new targets for antimalarial chemotherapy are the cysteine protease hemoglobinases falcipain-2 and falcipain-3. We evaluated the activities of synthetic peptidyl aldehyde and alpha-ketoamide cysteine protease inhibitors against these proteases, against cultured Plasmodium falciparum parasites, and in a murine malaria model. Optimized compounds inhibited falcipain-2 and falcipain-3, blocked hemoglobin hydrolysis, and prevented the development of P. falciparum at nanomolar concentrations. The compounds were equally active against multiple strains of P. falciparum with varied sensitivities to standard antimalarial agents. The peptidyl inhibitors were consistently less active against vinckepain-2, the putative falcipain-2 and falcipain-3 ortholog of the rodent malaria parasite Plasmodium vinckei. The lead compound morpholinocarbonyl-leucine-homophenylalanine aldehyde, which blocked P. falciparum development at low nanomolar concentrations, was tested in a murine P. vinckei model. When infused continuously at a rate of 30 mg/kg of body weight/day, the compound delayed the progression of malaria but did not eradicate infections. Our data demonstrate the potent antimalarial activities of novel cysteine protease inhibitors. Additionally, they highlight the importance of consideration of the specific enzyme targets of animal model parasites. In the case of falcipains, differences between P. falciparum and rodent parasites complicate the use of the rodent malaria model in the drug discovery process.
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 01/2004; 47(12):3810-4. · 4.57 Impact Factor