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PLoS One. 2013 Jul 15;8(7):e70702. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0070702. Print 2013.

An extensive comparison of the effect of anthelmintic classes on diverse nematodes.

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Section of Cell and Developmental Biology, Division of Biological Sciences, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA.


Soil-transmitted helminths are parasitic nematodes that inhabit the human intestine. These parasites, which include two hookworm species, Ancylostomaduodenale and Necator americanus, the whipworm Trichuristrichiura, and the large roundworm Ascarislumbricoides, infect upwards of two billion people and are a major cause of disease burden in children and pregnant women. The challenge with treating these diseases is that poverty, safety, and inefficient public health policy have marginalized drug development and distribution to control infection in humans. Anthelmintics (anti-worm drugs) have historically been developed and tested for treatment of non-human parasitic nematodes that infect livestock and companion animals. Here we systematically compare the in vitro efficacy of all major anthelmintic classes currently used in human therapy (benzimidazoles, nicotinic acetylcholine receptor agonists, macrocyclic lactones, nitazoxanide) against species closely related to human parasitic nematodes-Ancylostoma ceylanicum, Trichurismuris, and Ascarissuum--- as well as a rodent parasitic nematode used in veterinary drug discovery, Heligmosomoidesbakeri, and the free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Extensive in vitro data is complemented with single-dose in vivo data in three rodent models of parasitic diseases. We find that the effects of the drugs in vitro and in vivo can vary greatly among these nematode species, e.g., the efficacy of albendazole is strong on A. ceylanicum but weak on H. bakeri. Nonetheless, certain commonalities of the in vitro effects of the drugs can be seen, e.g., nitazoxanide consistently shows an all-or-nothing response. Our in vitro data suggest that further optimization of the clinical efficacy of some of these anthelmintics could be achieved by altering the treatment routine and/or dosing. Most importantly, our in vitro and in vivo data indicate that the hookworm A. ceylanicum is a particularly sensitive and useful model for anthelmintic studies and should be incorporated early on in drug screens for broad-spectrum human soil-transmitted helminth therapies.

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