Faculty Publications

Document Type


Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of Immunology Research




Worldwide, an estimated 12 million people are infected with Leishmania spp. and an additional 350 million are at risk of infection. Leishmania are intracellular parasites that cause disease by suppressing macrophage microbicidal responses. Infection can remain asymptomatic or lead to a spectrum of diseases including cutaneous, mucocutaneous, and visceral leishmaniasis. Ultimately, the combination of both pathogen and host factors determines the outcome of infection. Leishmaniasis, as well as numerous other infectious diseases, exhibits sex-related differences that cannot be explained solely in terms of environmental exposure or healthcare access. Furthermore, transcriptomic evidence is revealing that biological sex is a variable impacting physiology, immune response, drug metabolism, and consequently, the progression of disease. Herein, we review the distribution, morbidity, and mortality among male and female leishmaniasis patients. Additionally, we discuss experimental findings and new avenues of research concerning sex-specific responses in cutaneous and visceral leishmaniasis. The limitations of current therapies and the emergence of drug-resistant parasites underscore the need for new treatments that could harness the host immune response. As such, understanding the mechanisms driving the differential immune response and disease outcome of males versus females is a necessary step in the development of safer and more effective treatments against leishmaniasis.


Department of Biology


First published in Journal of Immunology Research v.2019 n.2 (2019) e4103819, published by Hindawi. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1155/2019/4103819

Original Publication Date


DOI of published version



UNI ScholarWorks, University of Northern Iowa, Rod Library

Date Digital



©2019 Ryan D. Lockard, Mary E. Wilson, and Nilda E. Rodriguez. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.



File Format


Included in

Biology Commons