Application of quantitative real-time reverse transcription-PCR in assessing drug efficacy against the intracellular pathogen Cryptosporidium parvum in vitro. Academic Article uri icon


  • We report here on a quantitative real-time reverse transcription-PCR (qRT-PCR) assay for assessing drug efficacy against the intracellular pathogen Cryptosporidium parvum. The qRT-PCR assay detects 18S rRNA transcripts from both parasites, that is, the cycle threshold for 18S rRNA from parasites (C(T)([P18S])) and host cells (C(T)([H18S])), and evaluates the relative expression between parasite and host rRNA levels (i.e., deltaC(T) = C(T)([P18S]) - C(T)([H18S])) to minimize experimental and operational errors. The choice of qRT-PCR over quantitative PCR (qPCR) in this study is based on the observations that (i) the relationship between the logarithm of infected parasites (log[P]) and the normalized relative level of rRNA (deltadeltaC(T)) is linear, with a fourfold dynamic range, by qRT-PCR but sigmoidal (nonlinear) by qPCR; and (ii) the level of RNA represents that of live parasites better than that of DNA, because the decay of RNA (99% in approximately 3 h) in dead parasites is faster than that of DNA (99% in approximately 24 to 48 h) under in vitro conditions. The reliability of the qRT-PCR method was validated by testing the efficacies of nitazoxanide and paromomycin on the development of two strains of C. parvum (IOWA and KSU-1) in HCT-8 cells in vitro. Both compounds displayed dose-dependent inhibitions. The observed MIC50 values for nitazoxanide and paromomycin were 0.30 to 0.45 micro/ml and 89.7 to 119.0 microg/ml, respectively, comparable to the values reported previously. Using the qRT-PCR assay, we have also observed that pyrazole could inhibit C. parvum development in vitro (MIC50 = 15.8 mM), suggesting that the recently discovered Cryptosporidium alcohol dehydrogenases may be explored as new drug targets.

published proceedings

  • Antimicrob Agents Chemother

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Cai, X., Woods, K. M., Upton, S. J., & Zhu, G.

citation count

  • 66

complete list of authors

  • Cai, Xiaomin||Woods, Keith M||Upton, Steve J||Zhu, Guan

publication date

  • November 2005