Update on Nitazoxanide: A Multifunctional Chemotherapeutic Agent

Curr Drug Discov Technol. 2018;15(3):201-213. doi: 10.2174/1570163814666170727130003.


Background: The thiazolide nitazoxanide (NTZ) is a broad-spectrum antiinfective drug that adversely affects viability, growth, and proliferation of a range of extracellular and intracellular protozoan, helminths, anaerobic and microaerophilic bacteria, and viruses.

Method: Current review compiled the potential chemotherapeutic efficacy of NTZ against a variety of such disease-causing macro and/or micro-organisms as well as neoplastic cells, using various search engines viz. Web of Science, Scopus and Pub- Med up to February 2017.

Result: The most accepted anti-infective mechanism of NTZ involves impairment of the energy metabolism in anaerobic pathogens by inhibition of the pyruvate: ferredoxin/ flavodoxin oxidoreductase (PFOR). In parasitic-protozoan NTZ also induces lesions/voids in the cell membrane and depolarises the mitochondrial membrane along with the inhibition of quinone oxidoreductase NQO1, nitroreductase-1 and protein disulphide isomerase. NTZ also inhibits the glutathione-S-transferase (a major detoxifying enzyme) and modulates a gene (avr-14 gene) encoding for the alphatype subunit of glutamate-gated chloride ion channel present in the nematodes. Apart from well recognized non-competitive inhibition of the PFOR in anaerobic bacteria, NTZ also showed a variety of other antibacterial mechanisms viz. inhibits pyruvate dehydrogenase in the Escherichia coli, disrupts the membrane potential and pH homeostasis in the Mycobacterium tuberculosis, suppresses the chaperone/usher (CU) pathway of the gram-negative bacteria and stimulates host macrophage autophagy in the tubercular patients. NTZ also suppresses the viral replication by inhibiting maturation of the viral hemagglutinin and the viral transcription factor immediate early 2 (IE2) as well as by activating the eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2α (an antiviral intracellular protein). Additionally, NTZ expresses inhibitory effect on the tumour cell progression by modulating drug detoxification (glutathione-S-transferase P1), unfolded protein response, autophagy, anti-cytokines activities and c-Myc inhibition.

Conclusion: These potentially versatile molecular interactions of NTZ within invading pathogen(s) and immunomodulatory efficacy over the hosts, justify the multifunctional chemotherapeutic significance of this chemical agent.

Keywords: Antiviral; anthelminthic; antibacterial; anticancer; antiprotozoal; thiazolide..

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Infective Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Nitro Compounds
  • Thiazoles / therapeutic use*


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Nitro Compounds
  • Thiazoles
  • nitazoxanide