Harmonine, a defence compound from the harlequin ladybird, inhibits mycobacterial growth and demonstrates multi-stage antimalarial activity

Christian Rene Röhrich, Che Julius Ngwa, Jochen Wiesner, Henrike Schmidtberg, Thomas Degenkolb, Christian Kollewe, Rainer Fischer, Gabriele Pradel, Andreas Vilcinskas

Abstract

The harlequin ladybird beetle Harmonia axyridis has been introduced in many countries as a biological control agent, but has become an invasive species threatening the biodiversity of native ladybirds. Its invasive success has been attributed to its vigorous resistance against diverse pathogens. This study demonstrates that harmonine ((17R,9Z)-1,17-diaminooctadec-9-ene), which is present in H. axyridis haemolymph, displays broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity that includes human pathogens. Antibacterial activity is most pronounced against fast-growing mycobacteria and Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and the growth of both chloroquine-sensitive and -resistant Plasmodium falciparum strains is inhibited. Harmonine displays gametocytocidal activity, and inhibits the exflagellation of microgametocytes and zygote formation. In an Anopheles stephensi mosquito feeding model, harmonine displays transmission-blocking activity.

  • Received July 26, 2011.
  • Accepted September 1, 2011.

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