Natural Terpenes Inhibit the Cytopathogenicity of Naegleria fowleri Causing Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis in the Human Cell Line Model

Kavitha Rajendran, Usman Ahmed, Alexia Chloe Meunier, Mohd Farooq Shaikh, Ruqaiyyah Siddiqui, Ayaz Anwar

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Naegleria fowleri is one of the free-living amoebae and is a causative agent of a lethal and rare central nervous system infection called primary amoebic meningoencephalitis. Despite the advancement in antimicrobial chemotherapy, the fatality rate in the reported cases is more than 95%. Most of the treatment drugs used against N. fowleri infection are repurposed drugs. Therefore, a large number of compounds have been tested against N. fowleri in vitro, but most of the compounds showed high toxicity. To overcome this, we evaluated the effectiveness of naturally occurring terpene compounds against N. fowleri. In this study, we evaluated the antiamoebic potential of natural compounds including Thymol, Borneol, Andrographolide, and Forskolin againstN. fowleri. Thymol showed the highest amoebicidal activity with IC50/24 h at 153.601 ± 19.6 μM. Two combinations of compounds Forskolin + Thymol and Forskolin + Borneol showed a higher effect on the viability of trophozoites as compared to compounds alone and hence showed a synergistic effect. The IC50 reported for Forskolin + Thymol was 81.30 ± 6.86 μM. Borneol showed maximum cysticidal activity with IC50/24 h at 192.605 ± 3.01 μM. Importantly, lactate dehydrogenase release testing revealed that all compounds displayed minimal cytotoxicity to human HaCaT, HeLa, and SH-SY5Y cell lines. The cytopathogenicity assay showed that Thymol and Borneol also significantly reduced the host cell cytotoxicity of pretreated amoeba toward the human HaCaT cell line. So, these terpene compounds hold potential as therapeutic agents against infections caused by N. fowleri and are potentially a step forward in drug development against this deadly pathogen as these compounds have also been reported to cross the blood-brain barrier. Therefore, an in vivo study using animal models is necessary to assess the efficacy of these compounds and the need for further research into the intranasal route of delivery for the treatment of these life-threatening infections.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4105–4114
Number of pages10
JournalACS Chemical Neuroscience
Issue number23
Early online date20 Nov 2023
Publication statusPublished - 6 Dec 2023


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