Potential therapeutic targets shared between leishmaniasis and cancer

Parasitology. 2021 May;148(6):655-671. doi: 10.1017/S0031182021000160. Epub 2021 Feb 4.


The association of leishmaniasis and malignancies in human and animal models has been highlighted in recent years. The misdiagnosis of coexistence of leishmaniasis and cancer and the use of common drugs in the treatment of such diseases prompt us to further survey the molecular biology of Leishmania parasites and cancer cells. The information regarding common expressed proteins, as possible therapeutic targets, in Leishmania parasites and cancer cells is scarce. Therefore, the current study reviews proteins, and investigates the regulation and functions of several key proteins in Leishmania parasites and cancer cells. The up- and down-regulations of such proteins were mostly related to survival, development, pathogenicity, metabolic pathways and vital signalling in Leishmania parasites and cancer cells. The presence of common expressed proteins in Leishmania parasites and cancer cells reveals valuable information regarding the possible shared mechanisms of pathogenicity and opportunities for therapeutic targeting in leishmaniasis and cancers in the future.

Keywords: Cancer; Leishmaniasis; common protein; drug; therapeutic target.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / metabolism
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antiprotozoal Agents / metabolism
  • Antiprotozoal Agents / therapeutic use
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Leishmaniasis / immunology
  • Leishmaniasis / therapy*
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / etiology
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Protozoan Proteins / metabolism


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Antiprotozoal Agents
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Protozoan Proteins