Volume 90, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



Although leishmanial infections of humans occur globally, the major health impact lies in developing nations, thus, leishmaniases remain “neglected” diseases for new drugs development. Multidrug resistance has been documented in most countries where leishmaniases is endemic. Betulin is a widely available and affordable natural product exerting leishmanicidal activity at micromolar concentration. In this study, the molecular mechanisms of death that contribute to the anti-leishmanial activity of betulin are investigated. In promastigotes, betulin stimulated reactive oxygen species generation at micromolar concentrations in . Apoptosis was observed in betulin-treated promastigotes using flow cytometric analysis of treated cells stained with annexin V-FITC and propidium iodide. Furthermore, betulin treatment of promastigotes led to mitochondrial membrane damage, activation of caspase-like proteases, and DNA fragmentation in promastigotes. Betulin treatment of amastigotes cultured within macrophages, resulted in a reduced number of amastigotes, with no substantive cytotoxic damage to the host macrophage cells at leishmanicidal drug concentrations.


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  • Received : 04 Jun 2013
  • Accepted : 27 Oct 2013
  • Published online : 05 Feb 2014

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