The effectiveness of natural diarylheptanoids against Trypanosoma cruzi: Cytotoxicity, ultrastructural alterations and molecular modeling studies

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© 2016 Sueth-Santiago et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Curcumin (CUR) is the major constituent of the rhizomes of Curcuma longa and has been widely investigated for its chemotherapeutic properties. The well-known activity of CUR against Leishmania sp., Trypanosoma brucei and Plasmodium falciparum led us to investigate its activity against Trypanosoma cruzi. In this work, we tested the cytotoxic effects of CUR and other natural curcuminoids on different forms of T. cruzi, as well as the ultrastructural changes induced in epimastigote form of the parasite. CUR was verified as the curcuminoid with more significant trypanocidal properties (IC5010.13 μM on epimastigotes). Demethoxycurcumin (DMC) was equipotent to CUR (IC5011.07 μM), but bisdemethoxycurcumin (BDMC) was less active (IC5045.33 μM) and cyclocurcumin (CC) was inactive. In the experiment with infected murine peritoneal macrophages all diarylheptanoids were more active than the control in the inhibition of the trypomastigotes release. The electron microscopy images showed ultrastructural changes associated with the cytoskeleton of the parasite, indicating tubulin as possible target of CUR in T. cruzi. The results obtained by flow cytometry analysis of DNA content of the parasites treated with natural curcuminoids suggested a mechanism of action on microtubules related to the paclitaxel's mode of action. To better understand the mechanism of action highlighted by electron microscopy and flow cytometry experiments we performed the molecular docking of natural curcuminoids on tubulin of T. cruzi in a homology model and the results obtained showed that the observed interactions are in accordance with the IC50values found, since there CUR and DMC perform similar interactions at the binding site on tubulin while BDMC do not realize a hydrogen bond with Lys163 residue due to the absence of methoxyl groups. These results indicate that trypanocidal properties of CUR may be related to the cytoskeletal alterations.




Sueth-Santiago, V., De Moraes, J. B. B., Alves, E. S. S., Vannier-Santos, M. A., Freire-De-lima, C. G., Castro, R. N., … Edilsonfreiredelima, M. (2016). The effectiveness of natural diarylheptanoids against Trypanosoma cruzi: Cytotoxicity, ultrastructural alterations and molecular modeling studies. PLoS ONE, 11(9).

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