Activity of physalins purified from Physalis angulata in in vitro and in vivo models of cutaneous leishmaniasis

J Antimicrob Chemother. 2009 Jul;64(1):84-7. doi: 10.1093/jac/dkp170. Epub 2009 May 19.


Objectives: We have previously demonstrated the immunomodulatory effects of physalins, secosteroids purified from Physalis angulata. Here we investigate the antileishmanial activity of physalins in vitro and in vivo in a model of cutaneous leishmaniasis.

Methods: The antileishmanial activity of physalins B, D and F was tested in Leishmania-infected macrophage cultures. For the in vivo studies, BALB/c mice were infected with Leishmania amazonensis subcutaneously in the ear pinna and treated with physalin F by topical administration.

Results: Physalins B and F were able to reduce the percentage of Leishmania-infected macrophages and the intracellular parasite number in vitro at concentrations non-cytotoxic to macrophages. More importantly, topical treatment with physalin F significantly reduced the lesion size, the parasite load and histopathological alterations in BALB/c mice infected with L. amazonensis.

Conclusions: Our results demonstrate the potent antileishmanial activity of physalins, especially physalin F, and suggest these molecules as the basis for the development of new therapeutic options for cutaneous leishmaniasis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antiprotozoal Agents / isolation & purification
  • Antiprotozoal Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antiprotozoal Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leishmania mexicana / drug effects*
  • Leishmaniasis, Cutaneous / drug therapy*
  • Macrophages / parasitology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Physalis / chemistry*
  • Secosteroids / isolation & purification
  • Secosteroids / pharmacology*
  • Secosteroids / therapeutic use*
  • Skin / parasitology
  • Skin / pathology


  • Antiprotozoal Agents
  • Secosteroids
  • physalin D
  • physalin B
  • physalin F