Interference with hemozoin formation represents an important mechanism of schistosomicidal action of antimalarial quinoline methanols

Author Summary Heme is an essential molecule to most living organisms, but once in a free state it exerts toxic effects. Blood-feeding organisms evolved efficient ways to detoxify free heme derived from hemoglobin digestion. A key mechanism present in some hematophagous organisms consists of the crystallization of heme into a pigment named hemozoin. Schistosoma mansoni is one of the etiologic agents of human schistosomiasis, a parasitic disease that affects over 200 million people in tropical and subtropical areas. Hemozoin formation represents the main heme detoxification pathway in S. mansoni . Here, we report that the antimalarial quinoline methanols quinine and quinidine exert schistosomicidal effects notably due to their capacity to interfere with hemozoin formation. When quinine or quinidine were administered intraperitoneally during seven days to S. mansoni -infected mice (75 mg/kg/day), both worm and eggs burden were significantly reduced. Interestingly, hemozoin content in female worms was drastically affected after treatment with either compound. We also found that quinine caused important changes in the cellular organization of worm gastrodermis and increased expression of genes related to musculature, protein synthesis and repair mechanisms. Together, our results indicate that interference with hemozoin formation is a valid chemotherapeutic target for development of new schistosomicidal agents.