Localization of azithromycin in Toxoplasma gondii-infected cells

J. C. Schwab, Y. Cao, M. R. Slowik, K. A. Joiner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Agents effective against intracellular pathogens must enter infected cells, crossing vacuolar membranes surrounding the organisms and then penetrating into the microbe and localizing to the microbial target site. We have characterized these parameters for azithromycin entry into Toxoplasma gondii-infected Chinese hamster ovary cells and murine macrophage-like J774 cells. Azithromycin uptake into infected host cells was concentrative and was dependent upon proton gradients. Subcellular fractionation of azithromycin- loaded infected CHO cells demonstrated >95% intracellular drug in host cell lysosomes and cytosol, with <5% associated with the parasite. Uptake of azithromycin into the T. gondii vacuole increased if parasites were coated with antibody prior to internalization by murine J774 cells, conditions which result in the formation of acidified phagolysosomes. No redistribution or retention of azithromycin in the parasite was observed when drug efflux from antibiotic-loaded infected CHO cells was monitored. Azithromycin entry into extracellular T. gondii was concentrative, was temperature and pH dependent, and was not different when azithromycin-sensitive and -resistant parasites were compared. These results demonstrate that azithromycin concentrates primarily in acidified compartments in parasites and host cells. The high concentration of azithromycin within these compartments may not be biologically relevant to inhibition of intracellular parasite growth by this agent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1620-1627
Number of pages8
JournalAntimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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