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Chlorinated metronidazole as a promising alternative for treating trichomoniasis

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Trichomoniasis is the most common non-viral, sexually transmitted infection affecting humans worldwide. The main treatment for trichomoniasis is metronidazole (MTZ). However, adverse effects and reports of resistance have stimulated the development of therapeutic alternatives. The ease of manipulation of the side chains of MTZ coupled with its safety makes this molecule attractive for the development of new drugs. In this context, we evaluated the activity of the chlorinated MTZ derivative, MTZ-Cl, on sensitive and resistant strains of Trichomonas vaginalis. MTZ-Cl presented a remarkable activity against both sensitive and resistant strains. In vitro and in vivo toxicity assays indicated that the new molecule is safe for future clinical trials. Furthermore, we noticed different rates of free radical production between the sensitive and resistant strains. MTZ-Cl induced a higher release of nitric oxide (NO, ~ 9000 a.u.) by both sensitive and resistant strains. However, the sensitive strain produced a greater amount of H2O2 (~ 1,800,000 a.u.) and superoxide radicals (~ 350,000 a.u.) in the presence of MTZ. In the resistant strain, production of these radicals was more prominent when MTZ-Cl was used. Collectively, these results suggest that NO is an important molecule in the trichomonacidal activity against resistant and sensitive strains, suggesting an alternative pathway for MTZ-Cl activation. We highlight the high trichomonacidal potential of MTZ-Cl, improving the effectiveness of treatment and reducing side effects. In addition, MTZ-Cl is derived from a well-established drug on the world market that presents low toxicity to human cells, suggesting its safety to proceed with future clinical trials.

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Correspondence to Maria Aparecida Gomes.

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This protocol was approved by the Ethical Committee for Animal Use from the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (CEUA 239/2015).

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Chacon, M.O., Fonseca, T.H.S., Oliveira, S.B.V. et al. Chlorinated metronidazole as a promising alternative for treating trichomoniasis. Parasitol Res 117, 1333–1340 (2018).

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  • Trichomonas vaginalis
  • Treatment
  • Resistance
  • Metronidazole analogue