Developing a new drug against trichomoniasis, new inhibitory compounds of the protein triosephosphate isomerase

Parasitol Int. 2020 Jun;76:102086. doi: 10.1016/j.parint.2020.102086. Epub 2020 Feb 27.


Trichomonas vaginalis is the protozoan parasite responsible for the most prevalent, non-viral, sexually transmitted disease, which affects millions of people around the world. The main treatment against this disease is metronidazole and some other nitroimidazole derivatives. However, between five and 20% of clinical cases of trichomoniasis are caused by parasites resistant to these drugs. Here we present three compounds that were selected using an innovative strategy, to propose them as possible drugs to combat trichomoniasis, using the glycolytic enzyme triose phosphate isomerase (TvTIM) as the drug target. In the genome of Trichomonas vaginalis there are two genes that encode for two isoforms of TvTIM, known as TvTIM1 and TvTIM2, varying by four out of 254 aminoacid residues. In this study, we used high-throughput virtual screening to search molecules that bind specifically to TvTIM isoforms, in which 34 compounds were selected from a library of nearly 450,000 compounds. The effects of the 34 compounds on the conformation and enzymatic activity of both TvTIM isoforms and their human homolog (HsTIM) were evaluated. We found three compounds that bind specifically, modify the conformation and inhibit TvTIM2 only; although the sequence of both isoforms of TvTIM is almost identical. The selectivity of these compounds towards TvTIM2 is explained by the lower conformational stability of this isoform and that these interactions can inhibit the activity of this enzyme and have an effect against this parasite. These compounds represent promising alternatives for the development of new therapeutic strategies against trichomoniasis.

Keywords: Docking; Drug development; Drug resistance; Sexual transmitted diseases; Trichomonas vaginalis.

MeSH terms

  • Antiprotozoal Agents / pharmacology*
  • High-Throughput Screening Assays
  • Humans
  • Trichomonas Infections / prevention & control*
  • Trichomonas vaginalis / drug effects*
  • Triose-Phosphate Isomerase / antagonists & inhibitors*


  • Antiprotozoal Agents
  • Triose-Phosphate Isomerase