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Quercetin as a Promising Antiprotozoan Phytochemical: Current Knowledge and Future Research Avenues

  • memariani, hamed
  • memariani, mojtaba
  • ghasemian, abdolmajid
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2024
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Despite tremendous advances in the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases, only few antiparasitic drugs have been developed to date. Protozoan infections such as malaria, leishmaniasis, and trypanosomiasis continue to exact an enormous toll on public health worldwide, underscoring the need to discover novel antiprotozoan drugs. Recently, there has been an explosion of research into the antiprotozoan properties of quercetin, one of the most abundant flavonoids in the human diet. In this review, we tried to consolidate the current knowledge on the antiprotozoal effects of quercetin and to provide the most fruitful avenues for future research. Quercetin exerts potent antiprotozoan activity against a broad spectrum of pathogens such as Leishmania spp., Trypanosoma spp., Plasmodium spp., Cryptosporidium spp., Trichomonas spp., and Toxoplasma gondii. In addition to its immunomodulatory roles, quercetin disrupts mitochondrial function, induces apoptotic/necrotic cell death, impairs iron uptake, inhibits multiple enzymes involved in fatty acid synthesis and the glycolytic pathways, suppresses the activity of DNA topoisomerases, and downregulates the expression of various heat shock proteins in these pathogens. In vivo studies also show that quercetin is effective in reducing parasitic loads, histopathological damage, and mortality in animals. Future research should focus on designing effective drug delivery systems to increase the oral bioavailability of quercetin. Incorporating quercetin into various nanocarrier systems would be a promising approach to manage localized cutaneous infections. Nevertheless, clinical trials are needed to validate the efficacy of quercetin in treating various protozoan infections.

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