Do bismuth complexes hold promise as antileishmanial drugs?

Yih Ching Ong, Lukasz Kedzierski, Philip C. Andrews

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Even after 70 years, pentavalent antimonials sodium stibogluconate and meglumine antimoniate remain the most important and cost-effective antileishmanial drugs. However, the drugs cannot be delivered orally and treatment involves intravascular or intramuscular injections for 28 days under strict medical monitoring due to the toxicity of Sb(III). The main alternatives, amphotericin B, pentamidine and miltefosine, are expensive and not without their own problems. Bismuth sits below antimony in the periodic table and is considered to be relatively nontoxic to humans while being capable of providing powerful antimicrobial activity. This review describes recent efforts into developing antileishmanial Bi(III) and Bi(V) drugs, which may resemble Sb analogs in effect and mode-of-action while providing lower mammalian cell toxicity and opportunities of oral delivery. Within the last 10 years, various studies concerning bismuth-based compounds as potential antileishmanial agents have been published. This review seeks to summarize the relevant studies and draw a conclusion as to whether bismuth complexes have the potential to be effective drugs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1721-1733
Number of pages13
JournalFuture Medicinal Chemistry
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • antimony
  • bismuth
  • leishmaniasis

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