INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF NANOMEDICINE, cilt.6, ss.2705-2714, 2011
Leishmaniasis is a protozoan vector-borne disease and is one of the biggest health problems of the world. Antileishmanial drugs have disadvantages such as toxicity and the recent development of resistance. One of the best-known mechanisms of the antibacterial effects of silver nanoparticles (Ag-NPs) is the production of reactive oxygen species to which Leishmania parasites are very sensitive. So far no information about the effects of Ag-NPs on Leishmania tropica parasites, the causative agent of leishmaniasis, exists in the literature. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of Ag-NPs on biological parameters of L. tropica such as morphology, metabolic activity, proliferation, infectivity, and survival in host cells, in vitro. Consequently, parasite morphology and infectivity were impaired in comparison with the control. Also, enhanced effects of Ag-NPs were demonstrated on the morphology and infectivity of parasites under ultraviolet (UV) light. Ag-NPs demonstrated significant antileishmanial effects by inhibiting the proliferation and metabolic activity of promastigotes by 1.5- to threefold, respectively, in the dark, and 2- to 6.5-fold, respectively, under UV light. Of note, Ag-NPs inhibited the survival of amastigotes in host cells, and this effect was more significant in the presence of UV light. Thus, for the first time the antileishmanial effects of Ag-NPs on L. tropica parasites were demonstrated along with the enhanced antimicrobial activity of Ag-NPs under UV light. Determination of the antileishmanial effects of Ag-NPs is very important for the further development of new compounds containing nanoparticles in leishmaniasis treatment.