Topical nitric oxide-releasing nanoparticles could be a treatment for dermal dermatophytosis

Dermatophytosis, commonly referred to as ‘ringworm’, is a fungal infection of the skin, hair or nails. Treatment currently relies on systemic therapies; however, these antifungals have been associated with off-target effects and limited tissue penetration. This has led researchers at George Washington University (DC, USA) to investigate the use of topical nitric oxide-releasing nanoparticles (NO-np) for the treatment of dermal T. rubrum dermatophytosis.

Adam Friedman, a senior author of the study published in Nanomedicine, explained further the disadvantages of systemic antifungals: “They are also known for their ability to adversely interact with many commonly used medications such as blood thinners and anti-hypertensives, or even cause various side effects themselves.”

The researchers believed that nitric oxide (NO) would be a suitable candidate for the treatment of dermatophytosis. Friedman pointed out that: “While we have known for decades that nitric oxide has tremendous potential in so many areas of medicine, its use has been limited due to the lack of effective delivery systems.” Although therapeutic delivery of NO is challenging due to its short half-life and high reactivity, Friedman and colleagues were able to overcome this by using a platform that generates and releases NO over time.

Transmission electron microscopy was used to visualize the antimicrobial effects of the minimum inhibitory concentration of NO-np. Results of the study displayed that NO-np produced a 95% infection clearance by the third day of treatment in mice, with complete clearance achieved after 7 days. In addition to this, NO-np decreased the levels of IL-2, IL-6, IL-10 and TNFα in tissue – indicating a decreased inflammatory response in the host. This discovery helps pave the path for an alternative treatment method against dermal T. rubrum dermatophytosis in comparison with systemic therapies.

The authors concluded in the study that future research should aim to reproduce these findings in human disease – as the decreased risk of antimicrobial resistance and reduced systemic side effects from using NO-np in dermal T. rubrum dermatophytosis could potentially be beneficial for patients.

Friedman explained: “The next step is to scale up the technology for clinical trial use in several therapeutic areas given the diverse clinical implications of the nitric oxide-producing nanoformulation, as well as the platform overall given its unique ability to encapsulate and deliver a broad range of active ingredients.”

Sources: Mordorski B, Costa-Orlandi CB, Baltazar LM et al. Topical nitric oxide releasing nanoparticles are effective in a murine model of dermal Trichophyton rubrum dermatophytosis. Nanomedicine 13(7), 2267–2270 (2017);


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