Receptor-mediated endocytosis for drug delivery in African trypanosomes: fulfilling Paul Ehrlich's vision of chemotherapy

Trends Parasitol. 2013 May;29(5):207-12. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2013 Apr 17.


Bloodstream-form cells of Trypanosoma brucei exhibit massively increased endocytic activity relative to the insect midgut stage, enabling rapid recycling of variant surface glycoprotein and antibody clearance from the surface. In addition, recent advances have identified a role for receptor-mediated endocytosis in the uptake of the antitrypanosomal drug, suramin, via invariant surface glycoprotein 75, and in the uptake of trypanosome lytic factor 1 via haptoglobin-haemoglobin receptor. Here, we argue that receptor-mediated endocytosis represents both a validated drug target and a promising route for the delivery of novel therapeutics into trypanosomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Endocytosis* / drug effects
  • Endosomes / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / metabolism
  • Protozoan Proteins / metabolism
  • Suramin / administration & dosage*
  • Transport Vesicles / metabolism*
  • Trypanocidal Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Trypanosoma brucei brucei / drug effects*
  • Trypanosoma brucei brucei / metabolism
  • Trypanosomiasis, African / drug therapy*
  • Trypanosomiasis, African / parasitology


  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Protozoan Proteins
  • Trypanocidal Agents
  • Suramin