Increased levels of thiols protect antimony unresponsive Leishmania donovani field isolates against reactive oxygen species generated by trivalent antimony

G. Mandal, S. Wyllie, N. Singh, S. Sundar, A. H. Fairlamb, M. Chatterjee (Lead / Corresponding author)

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    79 Citations (Scopus)


    The current trend of antimony (Sb) unresponsiveness in the Indian subcontinent is a major impediment to effective chemotherapy of visceral leishmaniasis (VL). Although contributory mechanisms studied in laboratory-raised Sb-R parasites include an up-regulation of drug efflux pumps and increased thiols, their role in clinical isolates is not yet substantiated. Accordingly, our objectives were to study the contributory role of thiols in the generation of Sb unresponsiveness in clinical isolates. Promastigotes were isolated from VL patients who were either Sb responsive (n=2) or unresponsive (n=3). Levels of thiols as measured by HPLC and flow cytometry showed higher basal levels of thiols and a faster rate of thiol regeneration in Sb unresponsive strains as compared with sensitive strains. The effects of antimony on generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in normal and thiol-depleted conditions as also their H2O2 scavenging activity indicated that in unresponsive parasites, Sb-mediated ROS generation was curtailed, which could be reversed by depletion of thiols and was accompanied by a higher H2O2 scavenging activity. Higher levels of thiols in Sb-unresponsive field isolates from patients with VL protect parasites from Sb-mediated oxidative stress, thereby contributing to the antimony resistance phenotype.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1679-1687
    Number of pages9
    Issue number12
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2007


    • Antimonial resistance
    • Oxidative stress
    • Reactive oxygen species
    • Thiols
    • Visceral leishmaniasis


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