Endochin-like quinolone-300 and ELQ-316 inhibit Babesia bovis, B. bigemina, B. caballi and Theileria equi

Marta G. Silva, Reginaldo G. Bastos, J. Stone Doggett, Michael K. Riscoe, Sovitj Pou, Rolf Winter, Rozalia A. Dodean, Aaron Nilsen, Carlos E. Suarez

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9 Scopus citations


Background: The most common apicomplexan parasites causing bovine babesiosis are Babesia bovis and B. bigemina, while B. caballi and Theileria equi are responsible for equine piroplasmosis. Treatment and control of these diseases are usually achieved using potentially toxic chemotherapeutics, such as imidocarb diproprionate, but drug-resistant parasites are emerging, and alternative effective and safer drugs are needed. The endochin-like quinolones (ELQ)-300 and ELQ-316 have been proven to be safe and efficacious against related apicomplexans, such as Plasmodium spp., with ELQ-316 also being effective against Babesia microti, without showing toxicity in mammals. Methods: The inhibitory effects of ELQ-300 and ELQ-316 were assessed on the growth of cultured B. bovis, B. bigemina, B. caballi and T. equi. The percentage of parasitized erythrocytes was measured by flow cytometry, and the effect of the ELQ compounds on the viability of horse and bovine peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) was assessed by monitoring cell metabolic activity using a colorimetric assay. Results: We calculated the half maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50) at 72 h, which ranged from 0.04 to 0.37 nM for ELQ-300, and from 0.002 to 0.1 nM for ELQ-316 among all cultured parasites tested at 72 h. None of the parasites tested were able to replicate in cultures in the presence of ELQ-300 and ELQ-316 at the maximal inhibitory concentration (IC100), which ranged from 1.3 to 5.7 nM for ELQ-300 and from 1.0 to 6.0 nM for ELQ-316 at 72 h. Neither ELQ-300 nor ELQ-316 altered the viability of equine and bovine PBMC at their IC100 in in vitro testing. Conclusions: The compounds ELQ-300 and ELQ-316 showed significant inhibitory activity on the main parasites responsible for bovine babesiosis and equine piroplasmosis at doses that are tolerable to host cells. These ELQ drugs may be viable candidates for developing alternative protocols for the treatment of bovine babesiosis and equine piroplasmosis. [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number606
JournalParasites and Vectors
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Babesia bigemina
  • Babesia bovis
  • Babesia caballi
  • Bovine babesiosis
  • ELQ-300
  • Endochin-like quinolones
  • Equine piroplamsosis
  • Theileria equi
  • nnELQ-316

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Veterinary
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Parasitology


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