Hepatotoxicity in Mice of a Novel Anti-parasite Drug Candidate Hydroxymethylnitrofurazone: A Comparison with Benznidazole

Carolina Davies, Nilay Dey, Olga Sanchez Negrette, Luis Antonio Parada, Miguel A. Basombrio, Nisha Jain Garg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background:Treatment of Chagas disease, caused by Trypanosoma cruzi, relies on nifurtimox and benznidazole (BZL), which present side effects in adult patients, and natural resistance in some parasite strains. Hydroxymethylnitrofurazone (NFOH) is a new drug candidate with demonstrated trypanocidal activity; however, its safety is not known.

Methods:HepG2 cells dose response to NFOH and BZL (5–100 µM) was assessed by measurement of ROS, DNA damage and survival. Swiss mice were treated with NFOH or BZL for short-term (ST, 21 d) or long-term (LT, 60 d) periods. Sera levels of cellular injury markers, liver inflammatory and oxidative stress, and fibrotic remodeling were monitored.

Results:HepG2 cells exhibited mild stress, evidenced by increased ROS and DNA damage, in response to NFOH, while BZL at 100 µM concentration induced >33% cell death in 24 h. In mice, NFOH ST treatment resulted in mild-to-no increase in the liver injury biomarkers (GOT, GPT), and liver levels of inflammatory (myeloperoxidase, TNF-α), oxidative (lipid peroxides) and nitrosative (3-nitrotyrosine) stress. These stress responses in NFOH LT treated mice were normalized to control levels. BZL-treated mice exhibited a >5-fold increase in GOT, GPT and TNF-α (LT) and a 20–40% increase in liver levels of MPO activity (ST and LT) in comparison with NFOH-treated mice. The liver inflammatory infiltrate was noted in the order of BZL>vehicle≥NFOH and BZL>NFOH≥vehicle, respectively, after ST and LT treatments. Liver fibrotic remodeling, identified after ST treatment, was in the order of BZL>vehicle>NFOH; lipid deposits, indicative of mitochondrial dysfunction and in the order of NFOH>vehicle>BZL were evidenced after LT treatment.

Conclusions:NFOH induces mild ST hepatotoxicity that is normalized during LT treatment in mice. Our results suggest that additional studies to determine the efficacy and toxicity of NFOH are warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPLoS neglected tropical diseases
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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