Chagas disease, caused by the protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi, is endemic to Latin America, standing out as a socio-economic problem for low-income tropical populations. Such disease affects millions of people worldwide and emerges in nonendemic areas due to migration and climate changes. The current chemotherapy is restricted to two nitroderivatives (benznidazole and nifurtimox), which is unsatisfactory due to limited efficacy (particularly in chronic phase) and adverse side effects. T. cruzi life cycle is complex, including invertebrate and vertebrate hosts and three developmental forms (epimastigotes, trypomastigotes, and amastigotes). In this chapter, we will discuss promising cellular and molecular targets present in the vertebrate-dwelling forms of the parasite (trypomastigotes and amastigotes). Among the cellular targets, the mitochondrion is the most frequently studied; while among the molecular ones, we highlight squalene synthase, C14α-sterol demethylase, and cysteine proteases. In this scenario, proteomics becomes a valuable tool for the identification of other molecular targets, and some previously identified candidates will be also discussed. Multidisciplinary studies are needed to identify novel key molecules in T. cruzi in order to increase trypanocidal activity and reduce mammalian toxicity, ensuring the development of novel drugs for Chagas disease.
Part of the book: Biology of Trypanosoma cruzi