Polyamine homoeostasis as a drug target in pathogenic protozoa: peculiarities and possibilities

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


New drugs are urgently needed for the treatment of tropical and subtropical parasitic diseases, such as African sleeping sickness. Chagas' disease, leishmaniasis and malaria. Enzymes in polyamine biosynthesis and thiol metabolism, as well as polyamine transporters, are potential drug targets within these organisms. In the present review, the current knowledge of unique properties of polyamine metabolism in these parasites is outlined. These properties include prozyme regulation of AdoMetDC (S-adenosylmethionine decarboxylase) activity in trypanosomatids, co-expression of ODC (ornithine decarboxylase) and AdoMetDC activities in a single protein in plasmodia, and formation of trypanothione, a unique compound linking polyamine and thiol metabolism in trypanosomatids. Particularly interesting features within polyamine metabolism in these parasites are highlighted for their potential in selective therapeutic strategies.


  • Lyn-Marie Birkholtz
  • Marni Williams
  • Jandeli Niemand
  • Abraham I. Louw
  • Lo Persson
  • Olle Heby
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


  • alpha-difluoromethylornithine, Leishmania, malaria, ornithine, decarboxylase (ODC), polyamine, S-adenosylmethionine decarboxylase, (AdoMetDC), spermidine synthase, Trypanosoma
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-244
JournalBiochemical Journal
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Publication categoryResearch