Inhibition of apoptosis by intracellular protozoan parasites

Heussler, Volker; Küenzi, P; Rottenberg, S (2001). Inhibition of apoptosis by intracellular protozoan parasites. International journal for parasitology, 31(11), pp. 1166-1176. Elsevier 10.1016/S0020-7519(01)00271-5

[img] Text
heussler_IJP.pdf - Published Version
Restricted to registered users only
Available under License Publisher holds Copyright.

Download (254kB) | Request a copy

Protozoan parasites which reside inside a host cell avoid direct destruction by the immune system of the host. The infected cell, however, still has the capacity to counteract the invasive pathogen by initiating its own death, a process which is called programmed cell death or apoptosis. Apoptotic cells are recognised and phagocytosed by macrophages and the parasite is potentially eliminated together with the infected cell. This potent defence mechanism of the host cell puts strong selective pressure on the parasites which have, in turn, evolved strategies to modulate the apoptotic program of the host cell to their favour. Within the last decade, the existence of cellular signalling pathways which inhibit the apoptotic machinery has been demonstrated. It is not surprising that intracellular pathogens subvert these pathways to ensure their own survival in the infected cell. Molecular mechanisms which interfere with apoptotic pathways have been studied extensively for viruses and parasitic bacteria, but protozoan parasites have come into focus only recently. Intracellular protozoan parasites which have been reported to inhibit the apoptotic program of the host cell, are Toxoplasma gondii, Trypanosoma cruzi, Leishmania sp., Theileria sp., Cryptosporidium parvum, and the microsporidian Nosema algerae. Although these parasites differ in their mechanism of host cell entry and in their final intracellular localisation, they might activate similar pathways in their host cells to inhibit apoptosis. In this respect, two families of molecules, which are known for their capacity to interrupt the apoptotic program, are currently discussed in the literature. First, the expression of heat shock proteins is often induced upon parasite infection and can directly interfere with molecules of the cellular death machinery. Secondly, a more indirect effect is attributed to the parasite-dependent activation of NF-kappaB, a transcription factor that regulates the transcription of anti-apoptotic molecules.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Cell Biology
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Cell Biology > Malaria

UniBE Contributor:

Heussler, Volker


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
500 Science








Volker Heussler

Date Deposited:

01 Jun 2016 14:35

Last Modified:

01 Jun 2016 14:35

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:





Actions (login required)

Edit item Edit item
Provide Feedback