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Exp Parasitol. 1995 Aug;81(1):97-105.

Antimalarial effects of C18 fatty acids on Plasmodium falciparum in culture and on Plasmodium vinckei petteri and Plasmodium yoelii nigeriensis in vivo.

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Department of Biological Chemistry, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel.


Following the demonstration of the antimalarial effect of the long chain saturated alcohol n-hentriacontanol ((CH2)29CH2OH), isolated from the Bolivian endemic solanaceous plant Cuatresia sp., we have tested the effect of the C18 fatty acids oleic, elaidic, linoleic, and linoleic on malaria parasites. These fatty acids inhibited the parasitemic development in mice infected with Plasmodium vinckei petteri or with Plasmodium yoelii nigeriensis in a 4-day suppressive test. To gain a deeper discernment of the antimalarial mode of action, the effects of these compounds were evaluated on Plasmodium falciparum growth in culture. Whereas n-hentriacontanol did not show any inhibition of this parasite, on the contrary, the C18 acids displayed a considerably inhibitory activity at < or = 200 micrograms/ml both in intact infected cells and in free parasites. In order to understand the mechanism of their antimalarial action, several tests were performed. No hemolysis of infected cells could be observed up to 500 microgram/ml. No effect on the lipid peroxidation, ATP levels, transport through the parasite-induced permeability pathways, or on the phagocytosis of the infected cells could be observed. The cytotoxic effect of the fatty acids was very rapid: full inhibition of nucleic acids and protein syntheses was observed in less than 30 min. This inhibition was not relieved by the addition of deferrioxamine or FeCl3, indicating that fatty acids (FA) do not act by facilitating the transport of iron. Inhibition was relieved in neither the presence of orotic acid or its methyl ester, indicating that FA do not act at the mitochondrial level of pyrimidine synthesis.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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