Efficacy and Safety of Liposomal Amphotericin B (AmBisome) for Visceral Leishmaniasis in Endemic Developing Countries

Bull World Health Organ. 1998;76(1):25-32.


Reported are the results of a study to determine the efficacy and safety of liposomal amphotericin B (AmBisome) for treating visceral leishmaniasis (kala-azar) in several developing countries where the disease is endemic (Brazil, India, and Kenya). At each study site, sequential cohorts of 10 patients each were treated with AmBisome at a dose of 2 mg.kg-1.day-1 (2 MKD). The first cohort received regimen 1:2 MKD on days 1-6 and day 10 (total dose: 14 mg/kg). If the efficacy with this regimen was satisfactory, a second cohort received regimen 2:2 MKD on days 1-4 and 10 (total dose: 10 mg/kg); and a third cohort received regimen 3:2 MKD on days 1, 5, and 10 (total dose: 6 mg/kg). In India, regimens 1, 2, and 3 (which were studied concurrently) each cured 100% of 10 patients. In Kenya, regimen 1 cured all 10 patients, regimen 2 cured 90% of 10 patients, but regimen 3 cured only 20% of 5 patients. In Brazil, regimen 1 was only partially curative: 5 of 13 patients (62%). Therefore, 15 patients were administered regimen 4 (2 MKD for 10 consecutive days; total dose, 20 mg/kg) and 13 patients were cured (83%). These results suggest that for the treatment of kala-azar the following doses of AmBisome should be administered: in India and Kenya, 2 mg/kg on days 1-4 and day 10; and in Brazil, 2 mg/kg on days 1-10.

PIP: The efficacy and safety of liposomal amphotericin B (AmBisome) for the treatment of visceral leishmaniasis (kala-azar) were evaluated in a phase II clinical trial conducted in Brazil, India, and Kenya--countries where kala-azar is endemic. At each study site, sequential cohorts of 10 patients each received three different dosage regimens of AmBisome. The first cohort received 2 mg/kg/day (MKD) on days 1-6 and day 10 (total dose, 14 mg/kg). If the efficacy of this regimen was satisfactory, the second cohort received 2 MKD on days 1-4 and day 10 (total dose, 10 mg/kg) and a third cohort was administered 2 MKD on days 1, 5, and 10 (total dose, 6 mg/kg). In India, all three regimens (studied concurrently) cured 100% of the total of 30 patients. In Kenya, the first regimen cured all 10 patients (100%), the second cured 9 of 10 patients (90%), and the third cured only 1 of 5 patients (20%). In Brazil, since the first regimen cured only 5 of 13 patients (62%), the next 15 patients were given 2 MKD for 10 consecutive days (total dose, 20 mg/kg); this intensified regimen cured 13 of the 15 patients (83%). Adverse effects were minor, primarily fever and chills associated with infusion and irregular pulse. These findings suggest that leishmaniasis patients in India and Kenya should receive 2 mg/kg of AmBisome on days 1-4 and day 10, while those in Brazil should be given 2 mg/kg on days 1-10. AmBisome treatment is especially recommended for those for whom standard agents are likely to be ineffective, toxic, or difficult to administer.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Amphotericin B / therapeutic use*
  • Antiprotozoal Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Brazil
  • Child
  • Developing Countries*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Endemic Diseases*
  • Humans
  • India
  • Kenya
  • Leishmaniasis, Visceral / drug therapy*
  • Leishmaniasis, Visceral / epidemiology
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antiprotozoal Agents
  • liposomal amphotericin B
  • Amphotericin B