Send to

Choose Destination
Mol Biochem Parasitol. 1988 Nov;31(2):149-62.

Effects of antimycotic azoles on growth and sterol biosynthesis of Leishmania promastigotes.

Author information

Department of Microbiology and Immunology, S.U.N.Y. Health Science Center 13210.


Promastigotes of 36 World Health Organization reference (and other) strains of 6 species and 10 subspecies of Leishmania were cultured in the presence of 3 antimycotic azole drugs (ketoconazole, itraconazole, fluconazole) and their population growth determined. A representative of each subspecies was also analyzed for its sterol composition. For all strains the order of azole drug activity with respect to both growth and sterol biosynthesis inhibition was itraconazole greater than or equal to ketoconazole greater than fluconazole. The inhibitory actions of the three azole drugs were greater on L. donovani and L. braziliensis subspecies and on L. mexicana amazonensis than on L. aethiopica, L. major, L. tropica and L. mexicana mexicana. The nature of the changes in sterol composition caused by the drugs was the same for all strains. The normal, major endogenous sterols of the promastigotes (5-dehydroepisterol and ergosterol) were reduced in amount to 1-2% of the total free sterols and were replaced by endogenous 14 alpha-methyl sterols and exogenous cholesterol. The changes occurred rapidly, were drug concentration dependent and coincided with growth inhibition. Six strains of those Leishmania species less sensitive to the azole drugs could be subcultured indefinitely at reduced growth rates in the presence of a ketoconazole concentration causing the same extraordinary alterations in sterol composition. This suggested that the bulk membrane functions of sterols in leishmanias can be served by 14 alpha-methyl sterols and cholesterol, albeit imperfectly, while traces of 14 alpha-desmethyl sterols are needed for uncharacterized metabolic functions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center