Drug cytotoxicity assay for african trypanosomes and leishmania species

Annette L. Bodley, Michael W. Mc Garry, Theresa A. Shapiro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


The trypanosomes and Leishmania species are parasitic protozoa that afflict millions of people throughout the world. If not treated, African trypanosomiasis and visceral leishmaniasis are fatal. The available drugs are severely limited by toxicity, marginal efficacy, the requirement for parenteral administration, and spreading drug resistance. In this study, a spectrophotometric assay was developed and validated for measuring the cytotoxicity of test compounds against axenically cultured bloodstream-form Trypanosoma brucei (African trypanosomes) and promastigotes of Leishmania donovani. Enzymatic hydrolysis of p-nitrophenyl phosphate, monitored by a microtiter plate reader, is a reliable surrogate for parasite cell counts. The assay is simple, inexpensive, and highly reproducible. The coefficient of variation for EC50values is <10% for determinations obtained over several months. This method permits the rapid screening of candidates for much-needed new drugs against these parasites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1157-1159
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Infectious Diseases
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Infectious Diseases


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