Antiparasitic Peptides

  • Jette Pretzel
  • Franziska Mohring
  • Stefan Rahlfs
  • Katja BeckerEmail author
Part of the Advances in Biochemical Engineering/Biotechnology book series (ABE, volume 135)


The most important parasitic diseases, malaria, leishmaniasis, trypanosomiasis, and schistosomiasis, are a great burden to mankind, threatening the life of millions of people worldwide and mostly affecting the poorest. Because drug resistance is increasing and vaccines are rarely available, novel chemotherapeutic compounds are necessary in order to treat these devastating diseases. Insects serve as vectors of many human parasitic diseases and have been shown to express a huge variety of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs). Therefore, research activity on insect-derived AMPs has been increasing in the last 40 years. This chapter summarizes the current state of research on the possible role of AMPs as potential chemotherapeutic compounds against human parasitic diseases.

Graphical Abstract

As a representative antimicrobial peptide with antiparasitic activity, the structure of insect defensin A is shown [PDB accession code: 1ICA]. The molecule is surrounded by schematic representations of the human pathogenic parasites Plasmodium, Leishmania and Trypanosoma.


Antimicrobial peptides Antiparasitic peptides Drug discovery Parasites 



Antimicrobial peptide


Cutaneous leishmaniasis


Disability-adjusted life years


Diffuse cutaneous leishmaniasis


50 % effective concentration


50 % effective dose


Electrophoretic mobility


50 % hemolytic concentration


50 % inhibitory concentration


50 % lethal concentration




Mucocutaneous leishmaniasis


Neutrophil extracellular traps


Nitric oxide


Polyethylene glycol


Red blood cell


Schistosoma mansoni dermaseptin-like peptide


World Health Organization



The work was supported by the Federal State of Hessen as part of the LOEWE Research Focus Insect Biotechnology.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jette Pretzel
    • 1
  • Franziska Mohring
    • 1
  • Stefan Rahlfs
    • 1
  • Katja Becker
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Biochemistry and Molecular BiologyInterdisciplinary Research CenterGiessenGermany

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