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Biochem Pharmacol. 1990 Jan 1;39(1):59-65.

Flavin analogs with antimalarial activity as glutathione reductase inhibitors.

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Department of Pathology, Medical School, University of Sydney, N.S.W., Australia.


10-(4'-Chlorophenyl)-3-methylflavin has antimalarial activity in vitro and in vivo (Cowden et al., J Med Chem 31: 799, 1988). This flavin analog and two of its derivatives were found to inhibit the antioxidant flavoenzyme glutathione reductase from human erythrocytes in its isolated form as well as in hemolysates. The mixed-type inhibition was completely reversible, the Ki-values being of the order of 1 microM. Surprisingly, the drugs were not competitive with FAD, but with GSSG, one of the enzyme's substrates. Malaria parasite glutathione reductase, extracted from Plasmodium falciparum, could also be inhibited by the compounds. Studies on the effects of the substances on P. falciparum in vitro, which were demonstrated morphologically and by growth inhibition, confirmed previous observations with 10-(4'-chlorophenyl)-3-methylflavin and showed similar parasiticidal characteristics for the two new derivatives. The activities of five other erythrocytic enzymes tested were not impaired by the drugs, nor was the nucleotide metabolism of erythrocytes and/or parasites significantly changed. Permeation into red blood cells was demonstrated for one compound by 19F-NMR-spectroscopy. Inhibition of glutathione reductase might contribute to, or account for, the antimalarial activity of this group of flavin analogs.

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