Diseases caused by protozoan parasites can pose a severe thread to human health and are behind some serious
neglected tropical diseases like malaria and leishmaniasis. Though several different drugs have been developed in order to
eradicate these diseases, a successful candidate has not yet been discovered. Among the most active compounds tested,
antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are particularly appealing because of their wide spectrum of action. AMPs have been described
to perturb protozoan homeostasis by disrupting the cellular membranes but also by interfering with key processes
in the parasite metabolism.
In this review we describe the diverse mechanisms of action of AMPs on protozoan targets and how they can be exploited
to treat diseases. Moreover, we describe with detail the antimicrobial action of AMPs on two major parasitical infections:
leishmaniasis and malaria.
All the features reviewed here show that AMPs are promising drugs to target protozoan parasites and that further understanding
of the mechanism of action of these compounds will lead to improved drugs that could be worth to test in a clinical
Keywords: Antimicrobial peptides, leishmaniasis, malaria, protozoa, protozoan homeostasis, tropical diseases, malaria, parasitic infections, braziliensis, cytoplasmic membrane
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