• Novel Therapeutic Approaches to Leishmania Infection

      Makala, Levi HC; Baban, Babak; Department of Pediatrics; Department of Oral Biology (InTech, 2014-03-19)
      Leishmaniasis is a parasitic disease transmitted by phlebotomine sandflies. Approximately 1.2 million cases of cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) and 500,000 cases of visceral leishmaniasis (VL), which is lethal if untreated, occur annually across the globe as per world health organization (WHO) estimates [1-3]. Current statistics and information relevant to leishmaniasis are summarized in Table 1. Leishmaniasis currently affects about 12 million people and it is estimated that approximately 350 million people live in risk of infection [1-3].The number of cases of leishmaniasis is probably underestimated because only 40 of the 88 countries where diseases frequently occur report them on a regular basis [4]. Leishmaniasis, is caused by several leishmania spp., that are obligate intracellular and unicellular kinetoplastid protozoan flagellate that establish themselves within the phagolysosome of host immune competent cells, especially macrophages and dendritic cells (DCs). In 1903, W.B. Leishman and C. Donovan reported this new parasite at the turn of the century [5,6]. Ronald Ross christened the new genus leishmania and the new species donovani in year 1903 [7]. L. major infection (leishmaniasis) in mice is a widely used model of human infection that has yielded critical insights into the immunobiology of leishmaniasis [8-10]. Leishmaniasis as a parasitic disease manifests itself mainly in 3 clinical forms; visceral leishmaniasis (VL), cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) and mucocutaneous leishmaniasis (MCL), of which VL is the most severe form of the disease. VL is lethal if untreated and spontaneous cure is extremely rare. Cutaneous leishmaniasis usually has milder course and often results into a self-healing of ulcers. Resolution of leishmanial infection is dependent on the coordinated interactions between components of cell mediated immune response, specifically the activation of targeted T-cell populations for appropriate cytokine production and activation of macrophages. L. major infection of B6 and BALB/c mouse strains drives predominantly TH1 and TH2 responses, respectively [11-14]. In murine model, the development of Th1 response is associated with control of infection, and Th2 response is associated with disease progression. However, Th1 and Th2 dichotomy in the human system is not as distinct as in mice and the murine model does not strictly apply to human leishmaniasis.