Photodynamic therapy offers a novel approach to managing miltefosine-resistant cutaneous leishmaniasis

F Cabral, Mina Riahi, Saydulla Persheyev, Cheng Lian, M Cortez, Ifor David William Samuel*, M Ribeiro*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) is a neglected disease caused by Leishmania parasites. The oral drug miltefosine is effective, but there is a growing problem of drug resistance, which has led to increasing treatment failure rates and relapse of infections. Photodynamic therapy (PDT) combines a light source and a photoactive drug to promote cell death by oxidative stress. Although PDT is effective against several pathogens, its use against drug resistant Leishmania parasites remains unexplored. Herein, we investigated the potential of organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) as wearable light sources, which would enable at-home use or ambulatory treatment of CL. We also assessed its impact on combating miltefosine resistance in Leishmania amazonensis-induced CL in mice. Thein vitro activity of OLEDs combined with 1,9-dimethyl-methylene blue (DMMB) (OLED-PDT) was evaluated against wild-type and miltefosine-resistant L. amazonensis strains in promastigote (EC50 = 0.034 μM for both strains) and amastigote forms (EC50 = 0.052 μM and 0.077 μM, respectively). Cytotoxicity in macrophages and fibroblasts was also evaluated. In vivo, we investigated the potential of OLED-PDT in combination with miltefosine using different protocols. Our results demonstrate that OLED-PDT is effective in killing both strains of L. amazonensis by increasing reactive oxygen species and stimulating nitric oxide production. Moreover, OLED-PDT showed great antileishmanial activity in vivo, allowing the reduction of miltefosine dose by half in infected mice using a light dose of 7.8 J/cm2 and 1.5 μM DMMB concentration. In conclusion, OLED-PDT emerges as a new avenue for at-home care and allows a combination therapy to overcome drug resistance in cutaneous leishmaniasis.
Original languageEnglish
Article number116881
JournalBiomedicine & Pharmacotherapy
Early online date24 Jun 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Jun 2024


  • 1,9-dimethyl-methylene blue (DMMB)
  • Leishmania amazonensis
  • Organic light emitting-diodes (OLEDs)
  • Antimicrobial resistance
  • Wearable light sources


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