Current treatment approaches to leishmaniasis.Curr Opin Infect Dis. 2003 Oct; 16(5):397-401.CO
PURPOSE OF REVIEW
The leishmaniases consist of cutaneous, mucosal, and visceral syndromes. The classic treatment is with pentavalent antimonials. The disadvantages of the antimonials are their requirement for intramuscular or intravenous injection each day for 20-28 days, their toxicity, and the recent development of resistance in regions such as India. Amphotericin B is a potent secondary agent, but is also compromised by its parenteral nature and toxicity. Clinical investigation of treatment agents from January 2000 to January 2003 is reviewed to determine if there are new agents that can be used.
A large number of pilot studies on visceral and cutaneous leishmaniasis have been performed. There can be more confidence in the visceral studies because visceral disease is incurable if untreated, and because large numbers of patients have been treated in highly endemic regions such as India. There is less confidence in pilot studies of the cutaneous disease, because most are uncontrolled, and there is a variable, and often high, cure rate without treatment.
Liposomal amphotericin B, which is injected infrequently and is easily tolerated, is virtually 100% effective for Indian visceral disease at a total dose of 15 mg/kg and is 90% effective at a dose of 5-10 mg/kg. The oral agent, miltefosine, is more than 95% effective for Indian visceral disease. Fluconazole treatment for 6 weeks speeds up the already-rapid cure rate of cutaneous disease due to Leishmania major.