Chagas disease and leishmaniasis are important parasitic diseases afflicting the poorest countries in the world. The number and efficacy of drugs available for the treatment of human trypanosomiasis and leishmaniasis is limited and are not ideal, as they are often associated with severe side effects. The emerging resistance to the available drugs against these diseases represents an additional problem. However, some headway has been made in identifying factors that are keys to parasite virulence and the pathogenesis of the diseases they produce. Parasite-derived proteases have been widely studied in connection to parasite virulence and disease pathogenesis. Studies focused on plant-derived compounds active against species of Trypanosoma and Leishmania have reveled promising results, which highlights natural products as a valuable source of drug candidates. This review focuses on phytochemicals able to target specific Trypanosoma spp. and Leishmania spp. enzymes showing a modern approach to the development of new drugs against trypanosomiasis and leishmaniasis.
Keywords: Phytochemicals, Trypanosoma, Leishmania, enzymes, Chagas disease, DNA topoisomerases, Terpinoids, Flavonoids, Steroids, Betulinic acid