Division of Parasitic Diseases, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control, Public Health Service, US Department of Health and Human Services, Director's Office, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Atlanta, Georgia
Pentavalent antimonial compounds have been the mainstay of the treatment of visceral, cutaneous, and mucosal leishmaniasis for approximately half a century. Pentostam (sodium stibogluconate) is the pentavalent antimonial compound available in the United States (through the Centers for Disease Control). As dosage regimens for treating leishmaniasis have evolved, the daily dose of antimony and the duration of therapy have been progressively increased to combat unresponsiveness to therapy. In the 1980s, the use of 20 mg/kg/day (instead of 10 mg/kg/day) of antimony was recommended, but only to a maximum daily dose of 850 mg. The authors have concluded on the basis of recent efficacy and toxicity data that this 850-mg restriction should be removed; the evidence to date, which is summarized here, suggests that a regimen of 20 mg/kg/day of pentavalent antimony, without an upper limit on the daily dose, is more efficacious and is not substantially more toxic than regimens with lower daily doses. We recommend treating all forms of leishmaniasis with a full 20 mg/kg/day of pentavalent antimony. We treat cutaneous leishmaniasis for 20 days and visceral and mucosal leishmaniasis for 28 days. Our judgment of cure is based on clinical criteria.