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Biomed Environ Sci. 1988 Jun;1(1):19-33.

Toxic effects of nifurtimox and benznidazole, two drugs used against American trypanosomiasis (Chagas' disease).

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Centro de Investigaciones Toxicológicas (Ceitox), Citefa/Conicet, Pcia de Buenos Aires, Argentina.


American trypanosomiasis (Chagas' disease) is an endemic parasitic disease afflicting more than 20 million persons in Latin America. Two drugs are currently being used for treatment of the acute phase of Chagas' disease: 4-[(5-nitrofurfurylidene)amino-3-methylthiomorpholine-1,1-di oxide] (Nifurtimox; Nfx) and (N-benzl-2-nitro-1-imidazole acetamide) (Benznidazole; Bz). Nfx and Bz have serious undesirable effects, which have been reported during their clinical use, including anorexia and weight loss, nausea and vomiting, nervous excitation, insomnia, psyche depressions, convulsions, vertigo, headache, sleepiness, myalgias, arthralgias, loss of balance, disorientation, forgetfulness, paresthesias, adynamia, acoustic phenomena, peripheral neuropathies, gastralgia, mucosal edema, hepatic intolerance, skin manifestations, and intolerance to drinking alcohol. Effects in the central and peripheral nervous system of Nfx were also reproduced in animals. Signs of testicular and ovarian injury were reported for both Nfx and Bz, the effects of Bz being in general less intense than those of Nfx. Both drugs evidenced mutagenicity. In light of the present knowledge about the toxicity of Nfx and Bz, further studies on the mutagenic, teratogenic, carcinogenic, and reproductive effects of both drugs are recommended. Lack of information is particularly serious for Bz. Studies on Nfx and Bz biotransformation, activation to reactive metabolites, and potential mechanisms for their toxic effects were analyzed. Risk-benefit considerations of the use of Nfx and Bz were made and an analysis of the need for research on Chagas' disease chemotherapy was also performed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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