The risk of reduced sensitivity of the human schistosomes to praziquantel has led to efforts to find new therapies. Here, the cyclotides kalata B1 (kB1), kalata B2 (kB2), MCoCC-1, and MCoTI-II, cyclic peptides extracted from plants and shown to be potent against nematodes and insects, were tested for antischistosome activity. In vitro assays showed that high concentrations (500–1000 μg/mL) of either kB1 or kB2 killed Schistosoma japonicum and Schistosoma mansoni adults within 5 min, whereas MCoTI-II and MCoCC-1 had no effect. Lethal concentrations to kill 50% of the population for kB2 was 15.5 ± 7.4 μg/mL at 1 h for male S. japonicum (Philippine strain). Males were more susceptible than females. kB2 showed higher antischistosome activity than kB1 and killing time was concentration-dependent. Mode of action studies revealed that kB1 and 2 lysed the tegument of adult worms. Lysis of myofibrils was not demonstrated, but longitudinal and radial muscle fibers were distorted, an observation consistent with strong coiling of the parasites after drug exposure. A single dose of kB2 administered either orally or intravenously, reduced worm burdens in S. japonicum-infected mice from 15% to 60%. However, treatment of S. mansoni-infected mice did not result in reduction in worm burdens. Our studies show that kB2 acts as a promising antischistosomal against Philippine S. japonicum, and it or other cyclotides may be developed further as general anthelminthics. With thousands of cyclotides predicted to occur in plants, and the amenability of these peptides to combinatorial variation, there is potential for their exploitation as wide-spectrum anthelminthics. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Biopolymers (Pept Sci) 100: 461–470, 2013.
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