The interaction of an antiparasitic peptide active against African Sleeping Sickness with cell membrane models

Cauê P. Pascholati, Esteban Parra Lopera, Felippe J. Pavinatto, Luciano Caseli, Thatyane M. Nobre, Maria E.D. Zaniquelli, Tapani Viitala, Claudius D'Silva, Osvaldo N. Oliveira*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Zwitterionic peptides with trypanocidal activity are promising lead compounds for the treatment of African Sleeping Sickness, and have motivated research into the design of compounds capable of disrupting the protozoan membrane. In this study, we use the Langmuir monolayer technique to investigate the surface properties of an antiparasitic peptide, namely S-(2,4-dinitrophenyl)glutathione di-2-propyl ester, and its interaction with a model membrane comprising a phospholipid monolayer. The drug formed stable Langmuir monolayers, whose main feature was a phase transition accompanied by a negative surface elasticity. This was attributed to aggregation upon compression due to intermolecular bond associations of the molecules, inferred from surface pressure and surface potential isotherms, Brewster angle microscopy (BAM) images, infrared spectroscopy and dynamic elasticity measurements. When co-spread with dipalmitoyl phosphatidyl choline (DPPC), the drug affected both the surface pressure and the monolayer morphology, even at high surface pressures and with low amounts of the drug. The results were interpreted by assuming a repulsive, cooperative interaction between the drug and DPPC molecules. Such repulsive interaction and the large changes in fluidity arising from drug aggregation may be related to the disruption of the membrane, which is key for the parasite killing property.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)504-510
Number of pages7
JournalColloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • African Sleeping Sickness
  • Air-water interface
  • Drug
  • Langmuir monolayer
  • Langmuir-Blodgett film
  • Peptide


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