Anti-Toxoplasma gondii activity of 5-oxo-hexahydroquinoline derivatives: synthesis, in vitro and in vivo evaluations, and molecular docking analysis

Mohammadsaeid Zahedi , Qasem Asgari, Fatemeh Badakhshan, Amirhossein Sakhteman, Sara Ranjbar, Mehdi Khoshneviszadeh


Background and purpose: The aim of this study was to evaluate the in vitro and in vivo anti-Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) effect of 5-oxo-hexahydroquinoline compounds. Moreover, molecular docking study of the compounds into the active site of enoyl-acyl carrier protein reductase (ENR) as a necessary enzyme for the vitality of apicoplast was carried out.

Experimental approach: A number of 5-oxo-hexahydoquinoline derivatives (Z1-Z4) were synthesized. The T. gondii tachyzoites of RH strain were treated by different concentrations (1-64 μg/mL) of the compounds. The viability of the encountered parasites with compounds was assessed using flow cytometry and propidium iodide (PI) staining. Due to the high mortality effect of Z3 and Z4in vitro, their chemotherapy effect was assessed by inoculation of tachyzoites to four BALB/c mice groups (n = 5), followed by the gavage of various concentrations of the compounds to the mice. Molecular docking was done to study the binding affinity of the synthesized 5-oxo-hexahydroquinolines into ENR enzyme active site byusing AutoDock Vina® software. Docking was performed by a Lamarckian Genetic Algorithm with 100 runs.

Findings / Results: Flow cytometry assay results indicated compounds Z3 and Z4 had relevant mortality effect on parasite tachyzoites. Besides, in vivo experiments were also performed and a partial increase of mice longevity between control and experiment groups was recorded. Molecular docking of Z3 and Z4 in the binding site of ENR enzyme indicated that the compounds were well accommodated within the binding site. Therefore, it could be suggested that these compounds may exert their anti-T. gondii activity through the inhibition of the ENR enzyme.

Conclusion and implications: Compounds Z3 and Z4 are good leads in order to develop better anti-T. gondii agents as they demonstrated both in vitro and in vivo inhibitory effects on tachyzoites viability and infection. Further studies on altering the route of administration along with additional pharmacokinetics evaluations are needed to improve the anti-T. gondii impacts of 5-oxo-hexahydroquinoline compounds.

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