First published February 1, 1987 - More info
Trimetrexate, a highly lipid-soluble quinazoline antifolate now undergoing trials as an anticancer agent, was found to be a potent inhibitor of the dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) isolated from Toxoplasma gondii. The concentration required for 50% inhibition of protozoal DHFR was 1.4 nM. As an inhibitor of this enzyme, trimetrexate was almost 600-fold (amount of antifolate required to inhibit catalytic reaction by 50%) and 750-fold (inhibition constant) more potent than pyrimethamine, the DHFR inhibitor currently used to treat toxoplasma infection. When the protozoan was incubated with 1 microM trimetrexate, the drug rapidly reached high intracellular concentrations. Since toxoplasma organisms lack a transmembrane transport system for physiologic folates, host toxicity can be prevented by co-administration of the reduced folate, leucovorin, without reversing the antiprotozoal effect. The effectiveness of trimetrexate against toxoplasma was demonstrated both in vitro and vivo. Proliferation of toxoplasma in murine macrophages in vitro was completely inhibited by exposure of these cells to 10(-7) M trimetrexate for 18 h. When used alone, trimetrexate was able to extend the survival of T. gondii-infected mice.