Abstract Title:

Naturally occurring cobalamins have antimalarial activity.

Abstract Source:

J Inorg Biochem. 2007 May;101(5):764-73. Epub 2007 Jan 31. PMID: 17343914

Abstract Author(s):

Susan M Chemaly, Chien-Teng Chen, Robyn L van Zyl

Article Affiliation:

Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. [email protected]


The acquisition of resistance by malaria parasites towards existing antimalarials has necessitated the development of new chemotherapeutic agents. The effect of vitamin B(12) derivatives on the formation of beta-haematin (synthetic haemozoin) was determined under conditions similar to those in the parasitic food vacuole (using chloroquine, a known inhibitor of haemozoin formation for comparison). Adenosylcobalamin (Ado-cbl), methylcobalamin (CH(3)-cbl) and aquocobalamin (H(2)O-cbl) were approximately forty times more effective inhibitors of beta-haematin formation than chloroquine, cyanocobalamin (CN-cbl) was slightly more inhibitory than chloroquine, while dicyanocobinamide had no effect. It is proposed that the cobalamins exert their inhibitory effect on beta-haematin formation by pi-interactions of their corrin ring with the Fe(III)-protoporphyrin ring and by hydrogen-bonding using their 5,6-dimethylbenzimidazole/ribose/sugar side-chain. The antimalarial activity for the cobalamins (Ado-cbl>CH(3)-cbl>H(2)O-cbl>CN-cbl) was found to be less than that for chloroquine or quinine. Ado-cbl, CH(3)-cbl and CN-cbl do not accumulate in the parasite food vacuole by pH trapping, but H(2)O-cbl does. Unlike humans, the malaria parasite has only one enzyme that uses cobalamin as a cofactor, namely methionine synthase, which is important for growth and metabolism. Thus cobalamins in very small amounts are necessary for Plasmodium falciparum growth but in larger amounts they display antimalarial properties.

Study Type : In Vitro Study
Additional Links
Pharmacological Actions : Antimalarials : CK(90) : AC(53)

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