Naphthylisoquinoline alkaloids: novel agents against the causative pathogens of eumycetoma and actinomycetoma- en route to broad-spectrum antimycetomal drugs

Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2024 May 2;68(5):e0161223. doi: 10.1128/aac.01612-23. Epub 2024 Apr 11.


Mycetoma is a devastating neglected tropical infection of the subcutaneous tissues. It is caused by fungal and bacterial pathogens recognized as eumycetoma and actinomycetoma, respectively. Mycetoma treatment involves diagnosing the causative microorganism as a prerequisite to prescribing a proper medication. Current therapy of fungal eumycetoma causative agents, such as Madurella mycetomatis, consists of long-term antifungal medication with itraconazole followed by surgery, yet with usually unsatisfactory clinical outcomes. Actinomycetoma, on the contrary, usually responds to treatment with co-trimoxazole and amikacin. Therefore, there is a pressing need to discover novel broad-spectrum antimicrobial agents to circumvent the time-consuming and costly diagnosis. Using the resazurin assay, a series of 23 naphthylisoquinoline (NIQ) alkaloids and related naphthoquinones were subjected to in vitro screening against two fungal strains of M. mycetomatis and three bacterial strains of Actinomadura madurae and A. syzygii. Seven NIQs, mostly dimers, showed promising in vitro activities against at least one strain of the mycetoma-causative pathogens, while the naphthoquinones did not show any activity. A synthetic NIQ dimer, 8,8'''-O,O-dimethylmichellamine A (18), inhibited all tested fungal and bacterial strains (IC50 = 2.81-12.07 µg/mL). One of the dimeric NIQs, michellamine B (14), inhibited a strain of M. mycetomatis and significantly enhanced the survival rate of Galleria mellonella larvae infected with M. mycetomatis at concentrations of 1 and 4 µg/mL, without being toxic to the uninfected larvae. As a result, broad-spectrum dimeric NIQs like 14 and 18 with antimicrobial activity are considered hit compounds that could be worth further optimization to develop novel lead antimycetomal agents.

Keywords: 8,8'''-O,O-dimethylmichellamine A; Ancistrocladaceae; actinomycetoma; eumycetoma; in vitro; in vivo; michellamine B; naphthylisoquinoline alkaloids; natural products; neglected tropical diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actinomadura / drug effects
  • Alkaloids* / chemistry
  • Alkaloids* / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Antifungal Agents* / pharmacology
  • Isoquinolines / pharmacology
  • Larva / drug effects
  • Larva / microbiology
  • Madurella* / drug effects
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests*
  • Moths / microbiology
  • Mycetoma* / drug therapy
  • Mycetoma* / microbiology
  • Naphthoquinones / pharmacology


  • Antifungal Agents
  • Alkaloids
  • Isoquinolines
  • Naphthoquinones