Flavonoids induce cell death in Leishmania amazonensis: in vitro characterization by flow cytometry and Raman spectroscopy
Leishmaniasis comprises a group of infectious diseases with worldwide distribution, of which both the visceral and cutaneous forms are caused by Leishmania parasites. In the absence of vaccines, efficacious chemotherapy remains the basis for leishmaniasis control. The available drugs are expensive and associated with several secondary adverse effects. Due to these limitations, the development of new antileishmanial compounds is imperative, and plants offer various perspectives in this regard. The present study evaluated the in vitro leishmanicidal activity of flavonoids isolated from Solanum paludosum Moric. and investigated the mechanisms of cell death induced by them. These compounds were evaluated in vitro for their antileishmanial activity against Leishmania amazonensis promastigotes and they showed prominent leishmanicidal activity. The EtOAc fraction, gossypetin 3,7,8,4′-tetra-O-methyl ether (1), and kaempferol 3,7-di-O-methyl ether (3) were selected to be used in an in vitro assay against L. amazonensis amastigotes and cell death assays. The flavonoids (1) and (3) presented significant activity against L. amazonensis amastigotes, exhibiting the IC50 values of 23.3 ± 4.5 μM, 34.0 ± 9.6 μM, and 10.5 ± 2.5 μM for the EtOAc fraction, (1), and (3), respectively, without toxic effects to the host cells. Moreover, (1) and (3) induced blocked cell cycle progression at the G1/S transition, ultimately leading to G1/G0 arrest. Flavonoid (3) also induced autophagy. Using Raman spectroscopy in conjunction with principal component analysis, the biochemical changes in the cellular components induced by flavonoids (1) and (3) were presented. The obtained results indicated that the mechanisms of action of (1) and (3) occurred through different routes. The results support that the flavonoids derived from S. paludosum can become lead molecules for the design of antileishmanial prototypes.