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Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2005 Jan 21;44(5):690-715.

Dithiol proteins as guardians of the intracellular redox milieu in parasites: old and new drug targets in trypanosomes and malaria-causing plasmodia.

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Universit├Ąt Heidelberg, Biochemie-Zentrum, Im Neuenheimer Feld 504, D-69120 Heidelberg, Germany.


Parasitic diseases such as sleeping sickness, Chagas' heart disease, and malaria are major health problems in poverty-stricken areas. Antiparasitic drugs that are not only active but also affordable and readily available are urgently required. One approach to finding new drugs and rediscovering old ones is based on enzyme inhibitors that paralyze antioxidant systems in the pathogens. These antioxidant ensembles are essential to the parasites as they are attacked in the human host by strong oxidants such as peroxynitrite, hypochlorite, and H2O2. The pathogen-protecting system consists of some 20 thiol and dithiol proteins, which buffer the intraparasitic redox milieu at a potential of -250 mV. In trypanosomes and leishmania the network is centered around the unique dithiol trypanothione (N1,N8-bis(glutathionyl)spermidine). In contrast, malaria parasites have a more conservative dual antioxidative system based on glutathione and thioredoxin. Inhibitors of antioxidant enzymes such as trypanothione reductase are, indeed, parasiticidal but they can also delay or prevent resistance against a number of other antiparasitic drugs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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