Allopurinol in the treatment of American cutaneous leishmaniasis.N Engl J Med. 1992 Mar 12; 326(11):741-4.NEJM
Pentavalent antimony, the generally accepted treatment for leishmaniasis, is given parenterally, and it is expensive and not readily available in developing countries. An inexpensive, orally administered compound would be a substantial advance in treatment. Previous studies in vitro have shown synergism between allopurinol and pentavalent antimony in tissue-culture systems. We designed this clinical study to determine whether synergism could be demonstrated in patients.
We performed a randomized, controlled study of the efficacy of allopurinol plus meglumine antimoniate (Glucantime), as compared with meglumine antimoniate alone, in patients with cutaneous leishmaniasis, who were recruited from a village in southeastern Colombia. In addition, those who declined injections were treated with allopurinol alone, and those who declined any treatment were considered controls. All the patients were followed for one year after the completion of treatment. Lesions that healed completely at three months and remained healed during follow-up were considered to be cured.
The cure rate for patients treated with meglumine antimoniate was 36 percent; the addition of allopurinol increased the rate to 74 percent (P less than 0.001). Treatment with allopurinol alone yielded a cure rate of 80 percent (P less than 0.001). There were no cures among the untreated patients. There was no significant difference between the cure rate with allopurinol plus meglumine antimoniate and that with allopurinol alone. No major toxic effects were observed.
For the treatment of American cutaneous leishmaniasis, the combination of allopurinol and meglumine antimoniate is significantly more effective than meglumine antimoniate alone, probably because of the efficacy of allopurinol alone, which appears to be as good as the combination.