Potential anti- Pythium insidiosum therapeutics identified through screening of agricultural fungicides

Microbiol Spectr. 2024 Feb 6;12(2):e0162023. doi: 10.1128/spectrum.01620-23. Epub 2024 Jan 5.


Pythiosis is a life-threatening infectious disease caused by the oomycete Pythium insidiosum. Clinical manifestations of pythiosis include an eye, blood vessel, skin, or gastrointestinal tract infection. Pythiosis has been increasingly reported worldwide, with an overall mortality rate of 28%. Radical surgery is required to save patients' lives due to the limited efficacy of antimicrobial drugs. Effective medical treatments are urgently needed for pythiosis. This study aims to find anti-P. insidiosum agents by screening 17 agricultural fungicides that inhibit plant-pathogenic oomycetes and validating their efficacy and safety. Cyazofamid outperformed other fungicides as it can potently inhibit genetically diverse P. insidiosum isolates while exhibiting minimal cellular toxicities. The calculated therapeutic scores determined that the concentration of cyazofamid causing significant cellular toxicities was eight times greater than the concentration of the drug effectively inhibiting P. insidiosum. Furthermore, other studies showed that cyazofamid exhibits low-to-moderate toxicities in animals. The mechanism of cyazofamid action is likely the inhibition of cytochrome b, an essential component in ATP synthesis. Molecular docking and dynamic analyses depicted a stable binding of cyazofamid to the Qi site of the P. insidiosum's cytochrome b orthologous protein. In conclusion, our search for an effective anti-P. insidiosum drug indicated that cyazofamid is a promising candidate for treating pythiosis. With its high efficacy and low toxicity, cyazofamid is a potential chemical for treating pythiosis, reducing the need for radical surgeries, and improving recovery rates. Our findings could pave the way for the development of new and effective treatments for pythiosis.IMPORTANCEPythiosis is a severe infection caused by Pythium insidiosum. The disease is prevalent in tropical/subtropical regions. This infectious condition is challenging to treat with antifungal drugs and often requires surgical removal of the infected tissue. Pythiosis can be fatal if not treated promptly. There is a need for a new treatment that effectively inhibits P. insidiosum. This study screened 17 agricultural fungicides that target plant-pathogenic oomycetes and found that cyazofamid was the most potent in inhibiting P. insidiosum. Cyazofamid showed low toxicity to mammalian cells and high affinity to the P. insidiosum's cytochrome b, which is involved in energy production. Cyazofamid could be a promising candidate for the treatment of pythiosis, as it could reduce the need for surgery and improve the survival rate of patients. This study provides valuable insights into the biology and drug susceptibility of P. insidiosum and opens new avenues for developing effective therapies for pythiosis.

Keywords: Pythium insidiosum; in vitro drug susceptibility; oomycete; pythiosis; treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytochromes b / metabolism
  • Fungicides, Industrial* / metabolism
  • Fungicides, Industrial* / pharmacology
  • Fungicides, Industrial* / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Imidazoles*
  • Mammals
  • Molecular Docking Simulation
  • Pythiosis* / drug therapy
  • Pythiosis* / microbiology
  • Pythium* / metabolism
  • Sulfonamides*


  • cyazofamid
  • Fungicides, Industrial
  • Cytochromes b
  • Imidazoles
  • Sulfonamides