Efficacy of ponazuril in vitro and in preventing and treating Toxoplasma gondii infections in mice
Toxoplasma gondii is an important apicomplexan parasite of humans and other warm-blooded animals. Ponazuril is a triazine anticoccidial recently approved for use in horses in the United States. We determined that ponazuril significantly inhibited T gondii tachyzoite production (P < 0.05) at 5.0, 1.0, or 0.1 mug/ml in African green monkey kidney cells. We used outbred female CD-1 mice to determine the efficacy of ponazuril in preventing and treating acute toxoplasmosis. Each mouse was subcutaneously infected with 1,000 tachyzoites of the RH strain of T. gondii. Mice were weighed daily, and ponazuril was administered orally in a suspension. Mice given 10 or 20 mg/kg body weight ponazuril I day before infection and then daily for 10 days were completely protected against acute toxoplasmosis. Relapse did not occur after prophylactic treatments were stopped. Toxoplasma gondii DNA could not be detected in the brains of these mice using polymerase chain reaction (PCR). One hundred percent of mice treated with 10 or 20 mg/kg ponazuril at 3 days after infection and then daily for 10 days were protected from fatal toxoplasmosis. Sixty percent of mice treated with 10 mg/kg ponazuril at 6 days after infection and 100% of mice treated with 20 mg/kg or 50 mg ponazuril 6 days after infection and then daily for 10 days were protected from fatal toxoplasmosis. Relapse did not occur after treatments were stopped. Toxoplasma gondii DNA was detected in the brains of some, but not all, of these mice using PCR. The results demonstrate that ponazuril is effective in preventing and treating toxoplasmosis in mice. It should be further investigated as a safe and effective treatment for this disease in animals.