Background: Leishmaniasis is the most important parasitic disease in Iran and is the third highest rate of rural cutaneous leishmaniasis in the world. Chitosan-polyethylene oxide nanocomposite fibers can be a suitable replacement for ordinary bandages. For the first time, in the absence of any published reports, the present in vitro study aimed to evaluate the anti-leishmanial effects of chitosan (CS)-polyethylene oxide (PEO)-berberine nanofibers on Leishmania major.
Methods: The present experimental study was conducted in 2018 in Tehran, Iran. The CS-PEO nanofibers containing berberine, as a natural anti-parasitic agent, were prepared using the electrospinning technique. Biocompatibility and fibroblast proliferation on nanofibers were investigated. In addition, the anti-leishmanial activity of CS-PEO nanofibers in both the promastigote and amastigote stages of Leishmania major was evaluated after parasite vital staining and MTT assay and compared to a control group. Statistical analysis was performed using SPSS software. Statistically significant differences were determined using the one-way ANOVA. The Duncan and Dunnett post hoc tests were used for within-group comparisons. P<0.05 was considered statistically significant.
Results: The results showed that nanofiber scaffolds with a mean diameter of 77.5±19.5 nm were perfect, regular, bead-free, and non-toxic, on which fibroblast cells grew well and proliferated. In addition, the optical density indicated that berberine 20% (w/v) significantly prevented promastigotes growth (IC50=0.24 μg/mL) and amastigotes death (IC50=0.91 μg/mL) compared to other concentrations and the control group.
Conclusion: The study on the cytotoxic effects showed that CS-PEO-berberine nanofibers had strong lethal effects on Leishmania major in promastigote and amastigote stages in vitro. Further studies are required to investigate the effects of this nanofiber on leishmanial ulcers in laboratory animals and clinical cases.