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Leishmaniasis is a neglected disease caused by protozoa belonging to the Leishmania genus. Notably, the search for new, promising and potent anti-Leishmania compounds remains a major goal due to the inefficacy of the available drugs used nowadays. In the present work, we evaluated the effects of 1,10-phenanthroline-5,6-dione (phendione) coordinated to silver(I), [Ag(phendione)2]ClO4 (Ag-phendione), and copper(II), [Cu(phendione)3](ClO4)2·4H2O (Cu-phendione), as potential drugs to be used in the chemotherapy against Leishmania amazonensis and Leishmania chagasi. The results showed that promastigotes treated with Ag-phendione and Cu-phendione presented a significant reduction in the proliferation rate. The IC50 values calculated to Ag-phendione and Cu-phendione, respectively, were 7.8 nM and 7.5 nM for L. amazonensis and 24.5 nM and 20.0 nM for L. chagasi. Microscopical analyses revealed several relevant morphological changes in promastigotes, such as a rounding of the cell body and a shortening/loss of the single flagellum. Moreover, the treatment promoted alterations in the unique mitochondrion of these parasites, inducing significant reductions on both metabolic activity and membrane potential parameters. All these cellular perturbations induced the triggering of apoptosis-like death in these parasites, as judged by the (i) increased percentage of annexin-positive/propidium iodide negative cells, (ii) augmentation in the proportion of parasites in the sub-G0/G1 phase and (iii) DNA fragmentation. Finally, the test compounds showed potent effects against intracellular amastigotes; contrarily, these molecules were well tolerated by THP-1 macrophages, which resulted in excellent selective index values. Overall, the results highlight new selective and effective drugs against Leishmania species, which are important etiological agents of both cutaneous (L. amazonensis) and visceral (L. chagasi) leishmaniasis in a global perspective.




This work was supported by grants from Fundação Carlos Chagas Filho de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (FAPERJ), Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) and Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES; financial code—001).

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Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License.