Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 February 2018
Several ortho-naphthoquinones (o-NQs) have trypanocidal activity against Trypanosoma cruzi, the aetiological agent of Chagas disease. Previously, we demonstrated that the aldo-keto reductase from this parasite (TcAKR) reduces o-NQs, such as β-lapachone (β-Lap) and 9,10-phenanthrenequinone (9,10-PQ), with concomitant reactive oxygen species (ROS) production. Recent characterization of TcAKR activity and expression in two T. cruzi strains, CL Brener and Nicaragua, showed that TcAKR expression is 2.2-fold higher in CL Brener than in Nicaragua. Here, we studied the trypanocidal effect and induction of several death phenotypes by β-Lap and 9,10-PQ in epimastigotes of these two strains. The CL Brener strain was more resistant to both o-NQs than Nicaragua, indicating that greater TcAKR activity is unlikely to be a major influence on o-NQ toxicity. Evaluation of changes in ROS production, mitochondrial membrane potential, phosphatidylserine exposure and monodansylcadaverine labelling evidenced that β-Lap and 9,10-PQ induce different death phenotypes depending on the combination of drug and T. cruzi strain analysed. To study whether TcAKR participates in o-NQ activation in intact parasites, β-Lap and 9,10-PQ trypanocidal effect was next evaluated in TcAKR-overexpressing parasites. Only β-Lap was more effective and induced greater ROS production in TcAKR-overexpressing epimastigotes than in controls, suggesting that TcAKR may participate in β-Lap activation.