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Mol Aspects Med. 2004 Feb-Apr;25(1-2):211-20.

Oxidative stress and antioxidant defenses: a target for the treatment of diseases caused by parasitic protozoa.

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Department of Biomedical Sciences, College of Allied Health Professions, University of South Alabama, UCOM 6000, Mobile, AL 36695, USA.


Parasitic protozoa cause several diseases, affecting hundreds of millions, particularly in underdeveloped countries. Although these organisms are eukaryotic cells, some of them present major differences with their mammalian host in selected metabolic pathways. These differences may be exploited as targets for developing better pharmacological agents for the treatment of specific parasitic diseases. This review describes some of the differences in terms of antioxidant defenses between these organisms and their mammalian host, which may provide useful targets for the treatment of these diseases. Some of the potential targets are: (i). iron metabolism in Plasmodium, (ii). the presence of a Fe-containing form of superoxide dismutase in trypanosomatids and malaria-causing parasites, (iii). the unique trypanothione-dependent antioxidant metabolism in trypanosomatids, (iv). the ascorbate peroxidase found in Trypanosoma cruzi and perhaps present in other trypanosomatids.

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