Killing of Trypanozoon parasites by the equine cathelicidin eCATH1

S Cauchard, N Van Reet, P Büscher, D Goux, J Grötzinger, M Leippe, V Cattoir, C Laugier, J Cauchard

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Trypanozoon parasites infect both humans, causing sleeping sickness, and animals, causing nagana, surra, and dourine. Control of the nagana and surra depends to a great extent on chemotherapy. However, drug resistance to several of the front-line drugs is rising. Furthermore, there is no official treatment for dourine. Therefore, there is an urgent need to develop antiparasitic agents with novel modes of action. Host defense peptides have recently gained attention as promising candidates. We have previously reported that one such peptide, the equine antimicrobial peptide eCATH1, is highly active against equine Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, without cytotoxicity against mammalian cells at bacteriolytic concentrations. In the present study, we show that eCATH1 exhibits an in vitro 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) of 9.5 μM against Trypanosoma brucei (T.b.) brucei, T. evansi, and T. equiperdum. Its trypanocidal mechanism involves plasma membrane permeabilization and mitochondrial alteration based on the following data: (i) eCATH1 induces the rapid influx of the vital dye SYTOX Green; (ii) it rapidly disrupts mitochondrial membrane potential, as revealed by immunofluorescence microscopy using the fluorescent dye rhodamine 123; (iii) it severely damages the membrane and intracellular structures of the parasites as early as 15 min after exposure at 9.5 μM and 5 min after exposure at higher concentrations (19 μM), as evidenced by scanning and transmission electron microscopy. We also demonstrate that administration of eCATH1 at a dose of 10 mg/kg to T. equiperdum-infected mice delays mortality. Taken together, our findings suggest that eCATH1 is an interesting template for the development of novel therapeutic agents in the treatment of trypanosome infections.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAntimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)2610-2619
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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