Nitazoxanide, a 5-nitrothiazolyl derivative, is effective in the treatment of a broad range of parasitic infections. In vitro, it is active against several protozoa, including Cryptosporidium parvum, Blastocystis hominis, and Giardia intestinalis. The objective of this study was to determine the in vitro effect of nitazoxanide on the growth and morphology of three anaerobic protozoa (Entamoeba histolytica, Giardia intestinalis, and Trichomonas vaginalis) and to compare these effects with those of metronidazole and albendazole. A subculture method was used to determine the concentrations required to inhibit growth by 50% or 90% (IC50 and IC90). Nitazoxanide exhibited IC50 and IC90 values of 0.017 and 0.776 μg/ml respectively, against E. histolytica, 0.004 and 0.067 μg/ml against G. intestinalis, and 0.034 and 2.04 6 μg/ml against T. vaginalis. Based on the IC90 values, nitazoxanide was more toxic than metronidazole and albendazole against E. histolytica; albendazole and nitazoxanide were more toxic than metronidazole against G. intestinalis; and metronidazole was the most toxic drug against T. vaginalis. The effects of nitazoxanide on trophozoite ultrastructure of all three parasites included cell swelling and distorted cell shape, a redistribution of vacuoles, plasma membrane damage, and the formation of extensive empty areas in the cytoplasm of the protozoa.
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Vol. 49 • No. 3