Phlebotomy of a unit of blood produces a loss of 200 to 250 mg of iron in haemoglobin. Because of physiological differences in iron balance between women of childbearing age and men, the loss of similar amounts of iron at donation has divergent consequences for committed donors. Women of childbearing age have an increased risk of iron deficiency if they donate more than one unit per year while men are usually able to maintain iron balance while donating four or more units of blood per year.
Artemisinin is an important new antimalarial agent containing a bridged endoperoxide. The in vitro antimalarial activity of an artemisinin derivative, arteether, is antagonized by two iron chelators, pyridoxal benzoylhydrazone and 1,2-dimethyl-3-hydroxypyrid-4-one. Similarly, the acute toxicity of artemisinin in mice is antagonized by another chelator, deferoxamine-hydroxyethylstarch. A combination of artemisinin and hemin oxidizes erythrocyte membrane thiols in vitro, and this oxidation is also inhibited by an iron chelator.
Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) and resonance Raman (RR) spectroscopies have been employed to investigate the reductive cleavage of the O-O bond of the endoperoxide moiety of the antimalarial drug artemisinin and its analog trioxane alcohol by hemin dimer. We have recorded FTIR spectra in the nu(O-O) and nu(as)(Fe-O-Fe) regions of artemisinin and of the hemin dimer that show the cleavage of the endoperoxide and that of the hemin dimer, respectively. We observed similar results in the trioxane alcohol/hemin dimer reaction.
The antimicrobial activities of chloroquine (CQ) and several 4-aminoquinoline drugs were tested against Penicillium marneffei, an opportunistic fungus that invades and grows inside macrophages and causes disseminated infection in AIDS patients. Human THP1 and mouse J774 macrophages were infected in vitro with P. marneffei conidia and treated with different doses of drugs for 24 to 48 h followed by cell lysis and the counting of P. marneffei CFU. CQ and amodiaquine exerted a dose-dependent inhibition of fungal growth, whereas quinine and artemisinin were fungistatic and not fungicidal.
The role of haem iron (II) and oxidative stress in the activation and antimalarial activity of artemisinin is unclear. Thus, we submitted malaria parasite to modified culture conditions: artemisinin activity increased by 20-30% under an oxygen-rich atmosphere (20% O2 instead of "standard" 1% O2), and by 40-50% in the presence of carboxy-haemoglobin, and 2% carbon monoxide, conditions which inhibit haem iron (II) reactivity. In all cases, parasite growth and chloroquine activity were unaffected.
Using nonperoxidic analogs of artemisinin and OZ277 (RBx11160), the strong in vitro antiplasmodial activities of the latter two compounds were shown to be peroxide bond dependent. In contrast, the weak activities of artemisinin and OZ277 against six other protozoan parasites were peroxide bond independent. These data support the iron-dependent artemisinin alkylation hypothesis.
Heme (Fe2+ protoporphyrin IX) is an essential molecule that has been implicated the potent antimalarial action of artemisinin and its derivatives, although the source and nature of the heme remain controversial. Artemisinins also exhibit selective cytotoxicity against cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. We demonstrate that intracellular heme is the physiologically relevant mediator of the cytotoxic effects of artemisinins.
Artemisinin is a plant-derived anti-malarial drug that has relatively low toxicity in humans and is activated by heme and/or intracellular iron leading to intracellular free radical formation. Interestingly, artemisinin has displayed anti-cancer activity, with artemisinin dimers being more potent than monomeric artemisinin. Intracellular iron uptake is regulated by the transferrin receptor (TfR), and the activity of artemisinin depends on the availability of iron.
Artemisinins have become essential antimalarial drugs for increasingly widespread drug-resistant malaria strains. Although tremendous efforts have been devoted to decipher how this class of molecules works, their exact antimalarial mechanism is still an enigma. Several hypotheses have been proposed to explain their actions, including alkylation of heme by carbon-centered free radicals, interference with proteins such as the sarcoplasmic/endoplasmic calcium ATPase (SERCA), as well as damaging of normal mitochondrial functions.