Leishmania donovani is the causative agent of the potentially fatal disease visceral leishmaniasis (VL). Chemotherapeutic options available to treat VL are limited and often face parasite resistance, inconsistent efficacy, and toxic side effects. Paromomycin (PMM) was recently introduced to treat VL as a monotherapy and in combination therapy. It is vital to understand the mechanisms of PMM resistance to safeguard the drug. In the present study, we utilized experimentally generated PMM-resistant L. donovani to elucidate the mechanisms of resistance and parasite biology. We found increased membrane fluidity accompanied by decreased intracellular drug accumulation in the PMM-resistant parasites. There were marked increases in gene expression of ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters (MDR1 and MRPA) and protein phosphatase 2A that evince increased drug efflux. Further, evaluation of parasite tolerance toward host leishmanicidal mechanisms revealed PMM-resistant parasites as being more tolerant to nitrosative stress at the promastigote and amastigote stages. The PMM-resistant parasites also predicted a better survival capacity, as indicated by resistance to complement-mediated lysis and increased stimulation of host interleukin-10 (IL-10) expression. The susceptibilities of PMM-resistant isolates to other antileishmanial agents (sodium antimony gluconate and miltefosine) remained unchanged. The data implicated the roles of altered membrane fluidity, decreased drug accumulation, increased expression of ABC transporters, and greater tolerance of parasites to host defense mechanisms in conferring PMM resistance in Leishmania.
- ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters
- Antiprotozoal Agents
- Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
- Leishmania donovani
- Oxidative Stress
- Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction