Antimalarial Activity of Dihydroartemisinin Derivatives by Transdermal Application

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  • Division of Experimental Therapeutics, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Center for Tropical Parasitic Diseases, University of Miami, Washington, District of Columbia

In addition to artelinic acid, which was demonstrated previously to possess good prophylactic as well as curative antimalarial activity against Plasmodium berghei by transdermal administration, seven artemisinin derivatives in a gel formulation were assessed for their antimalarial activities in this study. Artemisinin, the parent compound of the series, showed moderate prophylactic but poor curative activity. Although methyl artelinate was more active against P. berghei than artelinic acid and sodium artelinate by subcutaneous injection, its transdermal curative and prophylactic activity was only comparable with or weaker than that of artelinic acid. Conversely, both dihydroartemisinin trimethylsilyl ether and dehydrodihydroartemisinin showed weaker antimalarial activity than artelinic acid by the subcutaneous route, yet exhibited comparable activity by transdermal administration. Artemether, a prodrug of dihydroartemisinin, is as effective as the parent dihydroartemisinin, and both compounds were the most potent agents among the compounds studied, with total prophylactic and curative doses of 30 mg/kg and 60 mg/kg, respectively. Complete absorption of dihydroartemisinin appears to occur within 5 min after application. In general, we found that the prophylactic dose is about half that of the curative dose under the protocols used in this study. This novel drug delivery system may be an easy and safe way to administer artemisinin-type antimalarials and also a good alternative dosage form for active compounds with solubility problems.