Nanoparticle-mediated magnetic hyperthermia is an effective method for killing the human-infective protozoan parasite Leishmania mexicana in vitro

Sarah L. Berry, Karen Walker, Clare Hoskins, Neil D. Telling, Helen P. Price

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)


Cutaneous leishmaniasis is a neglected tropical disease characterized by disfiguring skin lesions. Current chemotherapeutic options depend on toxic, expensive drugs that are both difficult to administer and becoming less effective due to increasing levels of resistance. In comparison, thermotherapy displays greater patient compliance and less adverse systemic effects, but there are still significant issues associated with this. The procedure is painful, requiring local anaesthetic, and is less effective against large lesions. Using nanoparticles to controllably generate heat in a localized manner may provide an alternative solution. Here we evaluate magnetic hyperthermia, using iron oxide magnetic nanoparticles, as a localized, heat-based method to kill the human-infective parasite in vitro. We assessed the effectiveness of this method against the differentiated, amastigote form of the parasite using three distinct viability assays: PrestoBlue, Live/Dead stain and a novel luciferase-based assay. Changes in amastigote morphology and ultrastructure were assessed by immunofluorescence, scanning and transmission electron microscopy. Our findings show that magnetic hyperthermia is an effective method to kill host-infective amastigotes, with morphological changes consistent with heat treatment. This method has the potential to be a step-change for research into new therapeutic options that moves away from the expensive chemotherapeutics currently dominating the research climate.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1059
Number of pages9
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2019


  • nanomedicine
  • nanoparticles
  • Cutaneous leishmaniasis
  • tropical diseases
  • magnetic hyperthermia

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