Validation of IMP dehydrogenase inhibitors in a mouse model of cryptosporidiosis

Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2014;58(3):1603-14. doi: 10.1128/AAC.02075-13. Epub 2013 Dec 23.


Cryptosporidium parasites are a major cause of diarrhea and malnutrition in the developing world, a frequent cause of waterborne disease in the developed world, and a potential bioterrorism agent. Currently, available treatment is limited, and Cryptosporidium drug discovery remains largely unsuccessful. As a result, the pharmacokinetic properties required for in vivo efficacy have not been established. We have been engaged in a Cryptosporidium drug discovery program targeting IMP dehydrogenase (CpIMPDH). Here, we report the activity of eight potent and selective inhibitors of CpIMPDH in the interleukin-12 (IL-12) knockout mouse model, which mimics acute human cryptosporidiosis. Two compounds displayed significant antiparasitic activity, validating CpIMPDH as a drug target. The best compound, P131 (250 mg/kg of body weight/day), performed equivalently to paromomycin (2,000 mg/kg/day) when administered in a single dose and better than paromomycin when administered in three daily doses. One compound, A110, appeared to promote Cryptosporidium infection. The pharmacokinetic, uptake, and permeability properties of the eight compounds were measured. P131 had the lowest systemic distribution but accumulated to high concentrations within intestinal cells. A110 had the highest systemic distribution. These observations suggest that systemic distribution is not required, and may be a liability, for in vivo antiparasitic activity. Intriguingly, A110 caused specific alterations in fecal microbiota that were not observed with P131 or vehicle alone. Such changes may explain how A110 promotes parasitemia. Collectively, these observations suggest a blueprint for the development of anticryptosporidial therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caco-2 Cells / parasitology
  • Coccidiostats / therapeutic use*
  • Cryptosporidiosis / drug therapy*
  • Cryptosporidium parvum / drug effects*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Drug Discovery / methods
  • Humans
  • IMP Dehydrogenase / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Interleukin-12 / genetics
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL / parasitology
  • Mice, Knockout / parasitology


  • Coccidiostats
  • Interleukin-12
  • IMP Dehydrogenase