Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Intraerythrocytic plasmodia form hemozoin as a detoxification product of hemoglobin-derived heme. An identical substance, beta-hematin (BH), can be obtained in vitro from hematin at acidic pH. Quinoline-antimalarials inhibit BH formation. Standardization of test conditions is essential for studying the interaction of compounds with this process and screening potential inhibitors. A spectrophotometric microassay of heme polymerization inhibitory activity (HPIA) (Basilico et al., Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy 42, 55-60, 1998) previously reported was used to investigate the effect of pH and salt concentration on BH formation. The yield of BH formation decreased with pH. Moreover, under conditions used in the above HPIA assay (18 h, 37 degrees C, pH = 2.7), several salts including chloride and phosphate inhibited the process. Aminoquinoline drugs formulated as salts (chloroquine-phosphate, primaquine-diphosphate), but not chloroquine-base, also inhibited the reaction. Interference by salts was highest at low pH and decreased at higher pH (pH 4). Here, we describe different assay conditions that eliminate these problems (BHIA, beta-hematin inhibitory activity). By replacing hematin with hemin as the porphyrin and NaOH solution with DMSO as solvent, the formation of BH was independent of pH up to pH 5.1. No interference by salts was observed over the pH range 2.7-5.1. Dose-dependent inhibition of BH formation was obtained with chloroquine-base, chloroquine-phosphate, and chloroquine-sulfate at pH 5.1. Primaquine was not inhibitory. The final product, characterized by solubility in DMSO, consists of pure BH by FT-IR spectroscopy. The BHIA assay (hemin in DMSO, acetate buffer pH 5 +/- 0.1, 18 h at 37 degrees C) is designed to screen for those molecules forming pi-pi interactions with hematin and thus inhibiting beta-hematin formation.

Original publication




Journal article


Experimental parasitology

Publication Date





249 - 256


Istituto di Microbiologia, Universitá di Milano, Via Pascal 36, 20133 Milano, Italy.


Hemeproteins, Antimalarials, Spectrophotometry, Spectroscopy, Fourier Transform Infrared, Dose-Response Relationship, Drug, Hydrogen-Ion Concentration, Reference Standards