Antimicrobials for Protozoan Infections
Protozoans are a diverse group of single-celled organisms that inhabit most moist environments apart from the frigid poles of the planet. They are eukaryotic cells and move through the use of flagella, or "false feet" called pseudopods. Protozoans lack cells walls, and most reproduce using asexual reproduction. Some species are able to reproduce sexually, exchanging genetic material to form gametes that will fuse to become a zygote. A few protozoan species are known to be pathogenic to humans and animals. Most protozoan infections occur when the host consumes water containing live protozoans. Some pathogenic species are able to penetrate the skin, but most have to be consumed orally. Trichomoniasis is a sexually-transmitted disease caused by a protozoan parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis that is passed through unprotected sexual contact and usually produces few symptoms. Symptoms that do occur include painful itching, burning, and redness of the genital area. Treatment for trichomoniasis includes use of oral metronidazole medication.
Like many antimicrobials that affect bacteria, protozoan antimicrobials also inhibit protein synthesis, serve as antimetabolites, or inhibit DNA synthesis. The antiprotozoan drugs that inhibit protein synthesis are called lincosamides, which can also be effective against some gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. These drugs bind to the 50S subunit of the ribosome and prevent the elongation of the protein. Lincosamides drugs are given orally.
Malaria Drug Uptake
Antimicrobials for Helminth Infections
Helminths are eukaryotic, multicellular, parasitic worms that can be seen with the naked eye. The three main groupings of helminths include the cestodes, the trematodes, and the nematodes. All these groups have species that infect mammalian hosts when the helminth eggs are consumed. Many times, the life cycles of these worms involve intermediate hosts, meaning the eggs have to pass through the bodies of other animals before the larvae are able to settle into their final hosts. Parasitic worms can have separate sexes or may be hermaphroditic, with both genders in the same animal. Infection by helminths can commonly occurs through consumption of infected food or water. However, some nematodes are able to penetrate the skin of the host.Antihelminth drugs work to either disrupt the metabolism of the worm or inhibit nucleic acid synthesis. A drug called benzimidazole is known to inhibit microtubule formation (an essential step of cell division) and prevent glucose uptake by the worms. Without glucose, the worms are unable to perform cellular respiration to produce energy. This drug has also shown to be effective in protozoans. Niclosamide is a drug that prevents the production of ATP in the helminth's mitochondria. Cestodes are particularly affected by this. Other drugs, such as niridazole and oltipraz, have been shown to shut down DNA synthesis in Schistosoma, the worm that causes schistosomiasis and cercarial dermatitis, also known as “swimmer’s itch” in humans. It causes a raised, itchy patch on the skin’s surface. These drugs can bind to the helminth's DNA and prevent it from being copied. They can also reduce the supply of nucleotides available for DNA synthesis.