Medicina (Buenos Aires)
versión impresa ISSN 0025-7680
Chagas' disease is a severe health problem in Latin America, causing approximately 50 000 deaths a year, with approximately 18 million infected people. About 25-30% of the patients infected with Trypanosoma cruzi develop the chronic form of the disease. The protective response against T. cruzi depends on both innate and acquired immunity involving macrophages, natural killer cells, T and B lymphocytes, and the production of proinflammatory Th-1 cytokines. In addition, an increased nitric oxide (NO) production in macrophages leading to effective microbicidal action is needed to control parasitemia. Melatonin is detectable in T. cruzi and may play a role in promoting infection whereas, when administered in high doses during the acute phase of T. cruzi infection, it can decrease parasitemia while reducing NO production. During chronic disease progression, the sustained oxidative stress concomitant to myocardial damage could be reduced by administering melatonin. It is hypothesized that the coordinated administration of a melatonin agonist like the MT1/MT2 agonist ramelteon, that lacks antioxidant activity and may not affect NO production during the acute phase, and of melatonin in doses high enough to decrease oxidative damage, to preserve mitochondrial and to prevent cardiomyopathy during the chronic phase, could be a novel add-on treatment of Chagas´ disease.
Palabras clave : Chagas´ disease; Melatonin; Melatonin receptors; Oxidative stress; Nitric oxide.