PLoS Pathogens (Jul 2019)

Novel lactate dehydrogenase inhibitors with in vivo efficacy against Cryptosporidium parvum.

  • Kun Li,
  • Sara M Nader,
  • Xuejin Zhang,
  • Benjamin C Ray,
  • Chi Yong Kim,
  • Aditi Das,
  • William H Witola

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 15, no. 7
p. e1007953


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Cryptosporidium parvum is a highly prevalent zoonotic and anthroponotic protozoan parasite that causes a diarrheal syndrome in children and neonatal livestock, culminating in growth retardation and mortalities. Despite the high prevalence of C. parvum, there are no fully effective and safe drugs for treating infections, and there is no vaccine. We have previously reported that the bacterial-like C. parvum lactate dehydrogenase (CpLDH) enzyme is essential for survival, virulence and growth of C. parvum in vitro and in vivo. In the present study, we screened compound libraries and identified inhibitors against the enzymatic activity of recombinant CpLDH protein in vitro. We tested the inhibitors for anti-Cryptosporidium effect using in vitro infection assays of HCT-8 cells monolayers and identified compounds NSC158011 and NSC10447 that inhibited the proliferation of intracellular C. parvum in vitro, with IC50 values of 14.88 and 72.65 μM, respectively. At doses tolerable in mice, we found that both NSC158011 and NSC10447 consistently significantly reduced the shedding of C. parvum oocysts in infected immunocompromised mice's feces, and prevented intestinal villous atrophy as well as mucosal erosion due to C. parvum. Together, our findings have unveiled promising anti-Cryptosporidium drug candidates that can be explored further for the development of the much needed novel therapeutic agents against C. parvum infections.