Efficacy of artemisinin in experimental visceral leishmaniasis

Rupashree Sen, Sudipto Ganguly, Piu Saha, Mitali Chatterjee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Visceral leishmaniasis (VL), caused by the protozoan Leishmania sp., affects 500000 people annually, with the Indian subcontinent contributing a significant proportion of these cases. Emerging refractoriness to conventional antimony therapy has emphasised the need for safer yet effective antileishmanial drugs. Artemisinin, a widely used antimalarial, demonstrated anti-promastigote activity and the 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) ranged from 100μM to 120μM irrespective of Leishmania species studied. Leishmania donovani-infected macrophages demonstrated decreased production of nitrite as well as mRNA expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase, which was normalised by artemisinin, indicating that it exerted both a direct parasiticidal activity as well as inducing a host protective response. Furthermore, in a BALB/c model of VL, orally administered artemisinin (10mg/kg and 25mg/kg body weight) effectively reduced both splenic weight and parasite burden, which was accompanied by a restoration of Th1 cytokines (interferon-gamma and interleukin-2). Taken together, these findings have delineated the therapeutic potential of artemisinin in experimental VL.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-49
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Antimicrobial Agents
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Antileishmanial
  • Artemisinin
  • Experimental visceral leishmaniasis
  • Leishmaniasis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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