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Review
, 71, 41-6

Biochemical Basis for the Activity and Selectivity of Oral Antifungal Drugs

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  • PMID: 2091733
Review

Biochemical Basis for the Activity and Selectivity of Oral Antifungal Drugs

H Vanden Bossche et al. Br J Clin Pract Suppl.

Abstract

The ergosterol biosynthesis-inhibiting (EBI) antifungals constitute the most important group of compounds developed for the control of fungal diseases in man. Currently, representatives of two classes of EBI antifungals are available: the squalene epoxidase inhibitors and those that interfere with cytochrome P450-dependent ergosterol synthesis. The allylamines (eg, terbinafine) inhibit squalene epoxidase in sensitive fungi, Trichophyton mentagrophytes being the most sensitive species. The most important developments have come from the introduction of the N-substituted imidazoles and triazoles, the so-called azole antifungals. Most of the currently available imidazoles (eg, miconazole, clotrimazole, econazole) and the triazole derivative terconazole are mainly for topical treatment. Ketoconazole was the first azole derivative orally active against yeasts, dermatophytes and dimorphic fungi. The new triazole, itraconazole, appears to be among the most promising orally active systemic agents. All the azole antifungals inhibit the cytochrome P450-dependent, 14 alpha-demethylase, a key enzyme in the synthesis of ergosterol, the main sterol in most fungal cells. Of all the azoles tested, itraconazole shows the highest affinity for the cytochrome P450 involved. It is about three and ten times more active in vitro than miconazole and the bis-triazole, fluconazole, respectively. Itraconazole's high affinity for the fungal P450 originates from its triazole group as well as from the nonligating lipophilic tail.

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