Aura Caldera

Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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Publications (7)29.34 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: ER-119884 and E5700, novel arylquinuclidine derivatives developed as cholesterol-lowering agents, were potent in vitro growth inhibitors of both proliferative stages of Leishmania amazonensis, the main causative agent of cutaneous leishmaniasis in South America, with the 50% inhibitory concentrations (IC(50)s) being in the low-nanomolar to subnanomolar range. The compounds were very potent noncompetitive inhibitors of native L. amazonensis squalene synthase (SQS), with inhibition constants also being in the nanomolar to subnanomolar range. Growth inhibition was strictly associated with the depletion of the parasite's main endogenous sterols and the concomitant accumulation of exogenous cholesterol. Using electron microscopy, we identified the intracellular structures affected by the compounds. A large number of lipid inclusions displaying different shapes and electron densities were observed after treatment with both SQS inhibitors, and these inclusions were associated with an intense disorganization of the membrane that surrounds the cell body and flagellum, as well as the endoplasmic reticulum and the Golgi complex. Cells treated with ER-119884 but not those treated with E5700 had an altered cytoskeleton organization due to an abnormal distribution of tubulin, and many were arrested at cytokinesis. A prominent contractile vacuole and a phenotype typical of programmed cell death were frequently found in drug-treated cells. The selectivity of the drugs was demonstrated with the JC-1 mitochondrial fluorescent label and by trypan blue exclusion tests with macrophages, which showed that the IC(50)s against the host cells were 4 to 5 orders of magnitude greater that those against the intracellular parasites. Taken together, our results show that ER-119884 and E5700 are unusually potent and selective inhibitors of the growth of Leishmania amazonensis, probably because of their inhibitory effects on de novo sterol biosynthesis at the level of SQS, but some of our observations indicate that ER-119884 may also interfere with other cellular processes.
    Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 10/2008; 52(11):4098-114. · 4.57 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: There is an urgent need for the development of new drugs for the treatment of tropical parasitic diseases such as Chagas' disease and leishmaniasis. One potential drug target in the organisms that cause these diseases is sterol biosynthesis. This paper describes the design and synthesis of quinuclidine derivatives as potential inhibitors of a key enzyme in sterol biosynthesis, squalene synthase (SQS). A number of compounds that were inhibitors of the recombinant Leishmania major SQS at submicromolar concentrations were discovered. Some of these compounds were also selective for the parasite enzyme rather than the homologous human enzyme. The compounds inhibited the growth of and sterol biosynthesis in Leishmania parasites. In addition, we identified other quinuclidine derivatives that inhibit the growth of Trypanosoma brucei (the causative organism of human African trypanosomiasis) and Plasmodium falciparum (a causative agent of malaria), but through an unknown mode(s) of action.
    Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 12/2007; 51(11):4049-61. · 4.57 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: There is no effective treatment for the prevalent chronic form of Chagas' disease in Latin America. Its causative agent, the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, has an essential requirement for ergosterol, and ergosterol biosynthesis inhibitors, such as the antifungal drug posaconazole, have potent trypanocidal activity. The antiarrhythmic compound amiodarone, frequently prescribed for the symptomatic treatment of Chagas' disease patients, has also recently been shown to have antifungal activity. We now show here for the first time that amiodarone has direct activity against T. cruzi, both in vitro and in vivo, and that it acts synergistically with posaconazole. We found that amiodarone, in addition to disrupting the parasites' Ca(2+) homeostasis, also blocks ergosterol biosynthesis, and that posaconazole also affects Ca(2+) homeostasis. These results provide logical explanations for the synergistic activity of amiodarone with azoles against T. cruzi and open up the possibility of novel, combination therapy approaches to the treatment of Chagas' disease using currently approved drugs.
    Journal of Medicinal Chemistry 03/2006; 49(3):892-9. · 5.61 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Chagas' disease is a serious public health problem in Latin America, and no treatment is available for the prevalent chronic stage. Its causative agent, Trypanosoma cruzi, requires specific endogenous sterols for survival, and we have recently demonstrated that squalene synthase (SQS) is a promising target for antiparasitic chemotherapy. E5700 and ER-119884 are quinuclidine-based inhibitors of mammalian SQS that are currently in development as cholesterol- and triglyceride-lowering agents in humans. These compounds were found to be potent noncompetitive or mixed-type inhibitors of T. cruzi SQS with K(i) values in the low nanomolar to subnanomolar range in the absence or presence of 20 microM inorganic pyrophosphate. The antiproliferative 50% inhibitory concentrations of the compounds against extracellular epimastigotes and intracellular amastigotes were ca. 10 nM and 0.4 to 1.6 nM, respectively, with no effects on host cells. When treated with these compounds at the MIC, all of the parasite's sterols disappeared from the parasite cells. In vivo studies indicated that E5700 was able to provide full protection against death and completely arrested the development of parasitemia when given at a concentration of 50 mg/kg of body weight/day for 30 days, while ER-119884 provided only partial protection. This is the first report of an orally active SQS inhibitor that is capable of providing complete protection against fulminant, acute Chagas' disease.
    Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 08/2004; 48(7):2379-87. · 4.57 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present the results of the first detailed study of the molecular and cellular basis of the antiproliferative effects of the bisphosphonate risedronate (Ris) on Trypanosoma cruzi, the causative agent of Chagas' disease. Ris and related compounds, which block poly-isoprenoid biosynthesis at the level of farnesyl pyrophosphate synthase, are currently used for the treatment of bone resorption disorders, but also display selective activity against trypanosomatid and apicomplexan parasites. Ris induced a dose-dependent effect on growth of the extracellular epimastigote form of T. cruzi; complete growth arrest and cell lysis ensued at 150 microM. Growth inhibition was associated with depletion of the parasite's endogenous sterols, but complete growth arrest and loss of cell viability took place before full depletion of these compounds, suggesting that disappearance of other essential poly-isoprenoids is involved in its anti-parasitic action. Ris had a variety of effects on cellular ultrastructure, including mitochondrial swelling, disorganisation of other organelles, such as reservosomes and the kinetoplast, together with the appearance of autophagic vesicles and progressive vacuolization of the cytoplasm. Ris had selective antiproliferative effects against the clinically relevant amastigote form of T. cruzi, and at 100 microM, was able to prevent completely the development of T. cruzi infection of murine muscle heart or Vero cells, and to cure cultures which were already infected. Ris induced drastic ultrastructural alterations in the intracellular parasites and blocked amastigote to trypomastigote differentiation, with no biochemical or ultrastructural effects on the host cells, which fully recovered their normal structure and activity after treatment. Ris is, therefore, a promising lead compound for the development of new drugs against T. cruzi.
    International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents 04/2004; 23(3):273-85. · 4.42 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We have investigated the effects in vitro of a series of bisphosphonates on the proliferation of Trypanosoma cruzi, Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense, Leishmania donovani, Toxoplasma gondii, and Plasmodium falciparum. The results show that nitrogen-containing bisphosphonates of the type used in bone resorption therapy have significant activity against parasites, with the aromatic species having in some cases nanomolar or low-micromolar IC50 activity values against parasite replication (e.g. o-risedronate, IC50 = 220 nM for T. brucei rhodesiense; risedronate, IC50 = 490 nM for T. gondii). In T. cruzi, the nitrogen-containing bisphosphonate risedronate is shown to inhibit sterol biosynthesis at a pre-squalene level, most likely by inhibiting farnesylpyrophosphate synthase. Bisphosphonates therefore appear to have potential in treating parasitic protozoan diseases.
    Journal of Medicinal Chemistry 02/2001; 44(6). · 5.61 Impact Factor
  • Journal of Medicinal Chemistry - J MED CHEM. 01/2001; 44(6):909-916.