Effects of Atovaquone and Astragalus Combination on the Treatment and IL-2, IL-12, IFN-gamma Levels on Mouse Models of Acute Toxoplasmosis

Sonmez N., Boral O. B. , kasali K. , Tekeli F.

MIKROBIYOLOJI BULTENI, vol.48, no.4, pp.639-651, 2014 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 48 Issue: 4
  • Publication Date: 2014
  • Doi Number: 10.5578/mb.8025
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded, Scopus, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.639-651


Reactivation of Toxoplasma gondii infections and serious clinical manifestations such as encephalitis may develop in immunocompromised subjects and AIDS patients. Different protocols are used for the treatment of toxoplasmosis in high-risk patient groups, however life-long prophylactic therapy against reactivation risk in AIDS patients may lead to several undesired results. Atovaquone is an effective antiprotozoal agent against toxoplasmosis with minor side effects. On the other hand, Astragalus membranaceus root extract (AmE) has been shown to have immunomodulatory and antimicrobial activities, empowering immunity by enhancing proliferation and activation of phagocytic cells mainly macrophages, and inducing Th1 type immune response. The aim of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of atovaquone alone and in combination with AmE, in the treatment of toxoplasmosis, and on the levels of IL-2, IL-12 and IFN-gamma in experimentally infected mice with T.gondii. For this purpose, four experimental groups, each consisting of eight BALB/c mice, were set with the approval of Ethics Committee for the Animal Experiments. All the mice were infected with 0.5 ml of a suspension containing 2 x 10(4)/ml trophozoites prepared from T.gondii RH strain by intraperitoneal injection. Twenty-four hours after the infection, atovaquone (100 mg/kg/day) was given to atovaquone group, AmE (0.075 mg/g) to astragalus group and atovaquone (100 mg/kg/day) plus AmE (0.075 mg/g) to Atovaquone + Astragalus (Ato + Astra) group by oral gavage. The mice in the fourth group, which was the control group, were all infected but untreated. The above administrations were carried out for seven days. On the 8th day peritoneal fluids of mice were collected under anaesthesia and trophozoite numbers per 1 ml were detected by counting on the Thoma slide. In addition, the heart bloods of mice were drawn and IL-2, IL-12, IFN-gamma levels were determined in serum samples by using commercial ELISA kits (eBioscience, Austria). The mean number of trophozoites in Ato + Astra group was found significantly lower than the number of trophozoites in the other three groups (p < 0.05). The number of trophozoites in the atovaquone and astragalus groups were found significantly lower than the number of trophozoites in the control group (p < 0.05). There was a significant increase in IL-2 levels of astragalus group compared with the other three groups, in addition when IL-2 levels of Ato + Astra group were compared with ones in other three groups, a significant decrease was noticed (p < 0.05). There was a definite increase in IL-12 levels of atovaquone, astragalus and the control groups compared to those in Ato + Astra group (p < 0.05). A significant increase was found in IFN-gamma levels in atovaquone and Ato + Astra groups compared with those in the control group (p < 0.05). Within the reach of our literature survey, this study was the first research in which the effectiveness of the combination of atovaquone and AmE was investigated in the treatment of acute toxoplasmosis. The results of our study suggested that there might be a synergy between atovaquone and AmE in the treatment of acute toxoplasmosis. In case these results are supported by further studies, atovaquone and AmE combination may have a potential to be used for therapy in immunocompromized patients such as AIDS patients who have a risk for toxoplasmosis.