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Antibiotics in Malaria Therapy and their Effect on the Parasite Apicoplast

[ Vol. 10 , Issue. 3 ]


G. Pradel and M. Schlitzer   Pages 335 - 349 ( 15 )


The impact of selected antibiotics on combating malaria infections was discovered in the mid of last century. Only recently, studies on their modes of action in malaria parasites have been initiated, prompted by the discovery of a prokaryotic organelle, the apicoplast. This plastid-derived structure, which originates from a secondary endosymbiotic event, possesses important metabolic as well as housekeeping functions, including fatty acid and heme biosynthesis. Due to its indispensability for parasite survival it represents a promising target for the use of antibiotics in malaria therapy. Most antibiotics cause a delayed death phenotype, which manifests in the late onset of antimalarial activity during the second replication cycle of the pathogen. This review will describe the effect of classical antibacterial agents against malaria parasites and the use of some of these compounds in clinical settings. Firstly we discuss the current knowledge about the physiological and morphological effects of antibiotics on the parasite and the apicoplast in particular, with special focus on the delayed death effect. Secondly antimalarial antibiotics are specified and their effects in vitro are compared with available in vivo data and clinical studies. Major precautions and side effects are described.


Malaria, Plasmodium, apicoplast, antibiotic, target, delayed death, antimalarial drug


Research Center for Infectious Diseases, University of Wurzburg, Josef-Schneider-Strasse 2, Building D15, 97080 Wurzburg, Germany.

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