Amino Acid Metabolic Routes in Trypanosoma cruzi: Possible Therapeutic Targets Against Chagas; Disease

Author(s): Ariel Mariano Silber, Walter Colli, Henning Ulrich, Maria Julia Manso Alves, Claudio Alejandro Pereira

Journal Name: Current Drug Targets - Infectious Disorders
Continued as Infectious Disorders - Drug Targets

Volume 5 , Issue 1 , 2005


Chagas disease is a zoonosis caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, a haematic protozoan, transmitted by insects from the Reduviidae family. This constitutes a relevant health and socio-economic problem in the Americas, with 11 - 18 million people infected, and approximately 100 million people at risk. The therapeutic possibilities rely into two drugs, nifurtimox® and benznidazole®, that were discovered more than thirty years ago, and are mainly successful during the acute phase of the disease. In the majority of the cases the disease is diagnosed in the chronic phase, when the therapy is inefficient and the probability of cure is low. In addition, these drugs are highly toxic, with systemic side effects on patients. Trypanosoma cruzi has a metabolism largely based on the consumption of amino acids, mainly proline, aspartate and glutamate, which constitute the main carbon and energy sources in the insect stage of the parasite life cycle. These amino acids also participate in the differentiation process of the replicative non-infective form (epimastigote) to the nonreplicative infective form (trypomastigote). In particular, the participation of proline in the intracellular differentiation cycle, which occurs in the mammalian host, was recently demonstrated. In addition, an arginine kinase has been described in T. cruzi and T. brucei, which converts free arginine to phosphoarginine, a phosphagen with a role as an energy reservoir. Arginine kinase seems to be an essential component of energy management during stress conditions. Taken together, these data indicate that amino acid metabolism may provide multiple as yet unexplored targets for therapeutic drugs.

Keywords: trypanosoma cruzi, chagas disease, chemotherapy, arginine metabolism, proline metabolism, amino acid transporters, aptamers

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Article Details

Year: 2005
Page: [53 - 64]
Pages: 12
DOI: 10.2174/1568005053174636

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