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Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. 1999 Jan-Feb;93(1):85-90.

Topical treatment with hexadecylphosphocholine (Miltex) efficiently reduces parasite burden in experimental cutaneous leishmaniasis.

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Max Planck-Institut für Biologie, Tübingen, Germany.


Ether-lipids and alkylphosphocholines have been found to have anti-leishmanial activity. Oral treatment with hexadecylphosphocholine (HePC) efficiently reduces parasite burden in murine visceral leishmaniasis. Drugs for the treatment of cutaneous leishmaniasis are most commonly administered parenterally, whereas efficient drugs for topical treatment are not in current use. Here we investigate the efficacy of topical treatment with HePC in mice infected with Leishmania mexicana or L. major, causative agents of cutaneous leishmaniasis in the New and Old World, respectively. BALB/c, CBA/J and C57BL/6 inbred mice do not control infection with L. mexicana because they do not mount an efficient Th1-type anti-parasitic lymphocyte response. In contrast, C57BL/6 mice are resistant to an infection with L. major, developing only transient lesions that heal spontaneously owing to an efficient Th1 response. BALB/c, CBA/J and C57BL/6 mice were infected subcutaneously with L. mexicana amastigotes, causing nodular lesions after 5 months. Topical treatment with HePC (Miltex) was highly effective in reducing parasite burden and healed established lesions. The treatment did not induce a Th1 response in L. mexicana-infected susceptible mice and most of the mice relapsed. In resistant C57BL/6 mice infected subcutaneously with 2 x 10(6) L. major promastigotes at the tail base, nodular lesions developed after 2 weeks. Topical treatment with Miltex reduced the parasite load and the mice healed their lesions much faster than the untreated infected controls. The clinical application of Miltex for treatment of cutaneous leishmaniasis may be highly efficient because humans, similarly to resistant mice, in general do not relapse after healing. Clinical trials should be straightforward considering that Miltex is an approved drug for the treatment of breast cancer metastases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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