Calcium antagonists: a ready prescription for treating infectious diseases?

Curr Top Med Chem. 2013;13(18):2291-305. doi: 10.2174/15680266113136660161.


Emergence of new and medically resistant pathogenic microbes continues to escalate toward worldwide public health, wild habitat, and commercial crop and livestock catastrophes. Attempts at solving this problem with sophisticated modern biotechnologies, such as smart vaccines and microbicidal and microbistatic drugs that precisely target parasitic bacteria, fungi, and protozoa, remain promising without major clinical and industrial successes. However, discovery of a more immediate, broad spectrum prophylaxis beyond conventional epidemiological approaches might take no longer than the time required to fill a prescription at your neighborhood pharmacy. Findings from a growing body of research suggest calcium antagonists, long approved and marketed for various human cardiovascular and neurological indications, may produce safe, efficacious antimicrobial effects. As a general category of drugs, calcium antagonists include compounds that disrupt passage of Ca(2+) molecules across cell membranes and walls, sequestration and mobilization of free intracellular Ca(2+), and downstream binding proteins and sensors of Ca(2+)-dependent regulatory pathways important for proper cell function. Administration of calcium antagonists alone at current therapeutically relevant doses and schedules, or with synergistic compounds and additional antimicrobial medications, figures to enhance host immunoprotection by directly altering pathogen infection sequences, life cycles, homeostasis, antibiotic tolerances, and numerous other infective, survival, and reproductive processes. Short of being miracle drugs, calcium antagonists are welcome old drugs with new tricks capable of controlling some of the most virulent and pervasive global infectious diseases of plants, animals, and humans, including Chagas' disease, malaria, and tuberculosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Calcium Channel Blockers / therapeutic use*
  • Communicable Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Humans


  • Calcium Channel Blockers
  • Calcium