Combined drug therapy in the management of granulomatous amoebic encephalitis due to Acanthamoeba spp., and Balamuthia mandrillaris

Document Type



Biological and Biomedical Sciences


Granulomatous amoebic encephalitis (GAE) is caused by two protist pathogens, Acanthamoeba spp., and Balamuthia mandrillaris. Although rare, it almost always results in death. In the present study, amoebae were treated with various combinations of clinically-approved drugs, targeting vital cellular receptors and biochemical pathways. The results revealed that among the seven different combinations tested, three proved highly effective against both Acanthamoeba castellanii as well as B. mandrillaris at a concentration of 100 μM. These combinations included (i) prochlorperazine plus loperamide; (ii) prochlorperazine plus apomorphine; and (iii) procyclidine plus loperamide. In viability assays, none of the drug-treated amoebae emerged as viable trophozoites, suggesting irreversible amoebicidal effects. Four combinations of drugs tested showed varied potency against A. castellanii and B. mandrillaris at 100 μM. The combination of haloperidol and loperamide was highly effective against A. castellanii at 100 μM, but potent effects against B. mandrillariswere observed only at 250 μM. Digoxin and amlodipine were effective against A. castellanii and B. mandrillaris at 100 μM and 250 μM, respectively. In contrast, the combination of apomorphine and haloperidol was effective against B. mandrillaris and A. castellanii at 100 μM and 250 μM, respectively. At 100 μM, the combination of procyclidine and amiodarone was effective against neither A. castellanii nor B. mandrillaris. In this case, amoebicidal properties were observed at 750 μM for A. castellanii, and 950 μM for B. mandrillaris. As these drugs are used clinically against non-communicable diseases, the findings reported here have the potential to be tested in a clinical setting against amoebic encephalitis caused by A. castellanii and B. mandrillaris.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Experimental Parasitology