, Volume 76, Issue 4, pp 283-288

Chitin metabolism: a target for drugs against parasites

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Chitin is an important component of the exoskeleton of arthropods and of the egg shell in nematodes, but it does not occur in vertebrates. Therefore, it represents a useful target for drugs against ectoparasitic crustaceans, insects and endoparasitic nematodes. In this review we describe the basic characteristics of chitin, chitin synthesis and degradation and the hormonal regulation of chitin metabolism. Substances interfering with chitin metabolism like benzoylphenyl-urea derivatives but also some recently detected compounds are described. The necessity for a more detailed understanding of chitin metabolism and the establishment of better model systems, like e.g. chitin producing insect cell lines, is stressed and some examples are given in this review.