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Durham University

Department of Biosciences


Publication details for Professor Paul Denny

Armitage, E.G., Alqaisi, A.Q.I., Godzien, J., Pena, I., Mbekeani, A.J., Alsonso-Herranz, V., Lopez-Gonzalvez, A., Martin, J., Gabarro, R., Denny, P.W., Barrett, M.P. & Barbas, C. (2018). A complex interplay between sphingolipid and sterol metabolism revealed by perturbations to the Leishmania metabolome caused by miltefosine. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 62(5): e02095-17.

Author(s) from Durham


With the World Health Organization reporting over 30,000 deaths and 200-400,000 new cases annually, visceral Leishmaniasis is a serious disease affecting some of the world's poorest people. As drug resistance continues to rise, there is a huge unmet need to improve treatment. Miltefosine remains one of the main treatments for Leishmaniasis, yet its mode of action (MoA) is still unknown. Understanding the MoA of this drug and parasite response to treatment could help pave the way for new, more successful treatments for Leishmaniasis. A novel method has been devised to study the metabolome and lipidome of Leishmania donovani axenic amastigotes treated with miltefosine. Miltefosine caused a dramatic decrease in many membrane phospholipids (PLs), in addition to amino acid pools, while sphingolipids (SLs) and sterols increased. Leishmania major promastigotes devoid of SL biosynthesis through loss of the serine palmitoyl transferase gene (ΔLCB2) were 3-fold less sensitive to miltefosine than WT parasites. Changes in the metabolome and lipidome of miltefosine treated L. major mirrored those of L. donovani. A lack of SLs in the ΔLCB2 was matched by substantial alterations in sterol content. Together these data indicate that SLs and ergosterol are important for miltefosine sensitivity and perhaps, MoA.