Repurposing auranofin for treatment of Experimental Cerebral Toxoplasmosis



Evaluate the effect of auranofin on the early and late stages of chronic infection with Toxoplasma gondii avirulent ME49 strain.


Swiss albino mice were orally inoculated with 10 cysts of Toxoplasma gondii, and orally treated with auranofin or septazole in daily doses of 20 mg/kg or 100 mg /kg, respectively, for 30 days. Treatment began either on the same day of infection and mice were sacrificed at the 60th day postinfection or the treatment started after 60 days of infection and mice were sacrificed at the 90th day postinfection.


Auranofin significantly reduced the brain cyst burden and inflammatory reaction at both stages of infection compared to the infected non-treated control. More remarkably, auranofin significant reduced the brain cyst burden in the late stage, while septazole failed. Hydrogen peroxide level was significantly increased in the brain homogenate of mice treated with auranofin only at the early stage of infection. Ultrastructral studies revealed that the anti-Toxoplasma effect of auranofin is achieved by changing the membrane permeability and inducing apoptosis.


Thus, auranofin could be an alternative for the standard treatment regimen of toxoplasmosis and these results are considered another achievement for the drug against parasitic infection. Being a FDA-approved drug, it can be rapidly evaluated in clinical trials.

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Dr Ashraf Barakat, Professor of Epidemiology and Zoonotic Diseases, National Research Centre, Dokii, Giza, Egypt for providing us with Me49 strain.



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Correspondence to Nermine Mogahed Fawzy Hussein Mogahed.

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Abou-El-Naga, I.F., Mogahed, N.M.F.H. Repurposing auranofin for treatment of Experimental Cerebral Toxoplasmosis. Acta Parasit. (2021).

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  • Auranofin
  • Cerebral toxoplasmosis
  • Me49
  • Toxoplasma cyst