lxodes ticks maintain a large and diverse array of human pathogens in the enzootic cycle, including Borrelia burgdorferi and Babesia microti. Despite the poor ecological fitness of B. microti, babesiosis has recently emerged in areas endemic for Lyme disease. Studies in ticks, reservoir hosts, and humans indicate that coinfection with B. burgdorferi and B. microti is common, promotes transmission and emergence of B. microti in the enzootic cycle, and causes greater disease severity and duration in humans. These interdisciplinary studies may serve as a paradigm for the study of other vector-borne coinfections. Identifying ecological drivers of pathogen emergence and host factors that fuel disease severity in coinfected individuals will help guide the design of effective preventative and therapeutic strategies.
Extracellular vesicles (EVs) have emerged as a ubiquitous mechanism for transferring information between cells and organisms across all three kingdoms of life. In addition to their roles in normal physiology, vesicles also transport molecules from pathogens to hosts and can spread antigens as well as infectious agents. Although initially described in the host-pathogen context for their functions in immune surveillance, vesicles enable multiple modes of communication by, and between, parasites. Here we review the literature demonstrating that EVs are secreted by intracellular and extracellular eukaryotic parasites, as well as their hosts, and detail the functional properties of these vesicles in maturation, pathogenicity and survival. We further describe the prospects for targeting or exploiting these complexes in therapeutic and vaccine strategies.
Available data regarding the distribution, prevalence and severity of various diseases are based on the performance and operational characteristics of the diagnostic techniques applied; this is a fact that is particularly apparent in the study of helminth infections. An important lesson learnt from the efforts to rein in dracunculiasis, lymphatic filariasis and schistosomiasis is that the diagnostic approach needs to be changed as further progress is made towards control and ultimate elimination of the disease. This insight prompted the opinion piece presented here, which highlights diagnostic dilemmas in helminthology related to the stage of control achieved and sets out some research needs.
The worldwide use of artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) has contributed in recent years to a substantial reduction in deaths resulting from Plasmodium falciparum malaria. Resistance to artemisinins, however, has emerged in Southeast Asia. Clinically, resistance is defined as a slower rate of parasite clearance in patients treated with an artemisinin derivative or an ACT. These slow clearance rates associate with enhanced survival rates of ring-stage parasites briefly exposed in vitro to dihydroartemisinin. We describe recent progress made in defining the molecular basis of artemisinin resistance, which has identified a primary role for the P. falciparum K13 protein. Using K13 mutations as molecular markers, epidemiological studies are now tracking the emergence and spread of artemisinin resistance. Mechanistic studies suggest potential ways to overcome resistance.
Triclabendazole (TCBZ) is the only chemical that kills early immature and adult Fasciola hepatica (liver fluke) but widespread resistance to the drug greatly compromises fluke control in livestock and humans. The mode of action of TCBZ and mechanism(s) underlying parasite resistance to the drug are not known. Due to the high prevalence of TCBZ resistance (TCBZ-R), effective management of drug resistance is now critical for sustainable livestock production. Here, we discuss the current status of TCBZ-R in F. hepatica, the global distribution of resistance observed in livestock, the possible mechanism(s) of drug action, the proposed mechanisms and genetic basis of resistance, and the prospects for future control of liver fluke infections using an integrated parasite management (IPM) approach.
Highlights ► Latent toxoplasmosis is one of the most important risk factors for schizophrenia. ► Effects of Toxoplasma are mediated by increased dopamine and decreased tryptophan. ► Some of these effects are products of manipulation activity of Toxoplasma. ► Toxoplasmosis could be indirectly responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths.
Leishmaniasis, a neglected tropical disease, has strong but complex links with poverty. The burden of leishmaniasis falls disproportionately on the poorest segments of the global population. Within endemic areas, increased infection risk is mediated through poor housing conditions and environmental sanitation, lack of personal protective measures and economically driven migration and employment that bring nonimmune hosts into contact with infected sand flies. Poverty is associated with poor nutrition and other infectious diseases, which increase the risk that a person (once infected) will progress to the clinically manifested disease. Lack of healthcare access causes delays in appropriate diagnosis and treatment and accentuates leishmaniasis morbidity and mortality, particularly in women. Leishmaniasis diagnosis and treatment are expensive and families must sell assets and take loans to pay for care, leading to further impoverishment and reinforcement of the vicious cycle of disease and poverty. Public investment in treatment and control would decrease the leishmaniasis disease burden and help to alleviate poverty.
Canine leishmaniosis is a potentially life-threatening disease which is spreading geographically in the Old and New Worlds, where different diagnostic procedures, treatments, and control strategies are currently in place. This Opinion article outlines the similarities and differences between canine leishmaniosis in the Old and New Worlds, with emphasis on South America and Europe. Finally, it calls the attention of veterinary and public health authorities to standardize and improve practices for diagnosing, treating, and preventing the disease.
Highlights • Can Blastocystis induce or contribute to dysbiosis? Or could Blastocystis serve as a biomarker of microbiota homeostasis including high intestinal microbial diversity? • Do different microbiota favor establishment of different subtypes? Or what determines the relative success of establishment of each ST in different hosts? • What genes are involved in regulating transition from one morphotype to another? • How can different sub- and genotypes be characterized in terms of the existence and expression of cysteine proteases and similar virulence proteins?
RNA editing is a process that alters DNA-encoded sequences and is distinct from splicing, 5' capping, and 3' additions. In 30 years since editing was discovered in mitochondria of trypanosomes, several functionally and evolutionarily unrelated mechanisms have been described in eukaryotes, archaea, and viruses. Editing events are predominantly post-transcriptional and include nucleoside insertions and deletions, and base substitutions and modifications. Here, we review the mechanism of uridine insertion/deletion mRNA editing in kinetoplastid protists typified by Trypanosoma brucei. This type of editing corrects frameshifts, introduces translation punctuation signals, and often adds hundreds of uridines to create protein-coding sequences. We focus on protein complexes responsible for editing reactions and their interactions with other elements of the mitochondria! gene expression pathway.
P.berghei ANKA infection in CBA or CB57BL/6 mice is used widely as a murine ‘model’ of human cerebral malaria (HCM), despite markedly different histopathological features. The pathology of the murine model is characterised by marked inflammation with little or no intracerebral sequestration of parasitised erythrocytes, whereas HCM is associated with intense intracerebral sequestration, often with little inflammatory response. There are now more than ten times as many studies each year of the murine model than on HCM. Of 48 adjunctive interventions evaluated in the murine model, 44 (92%) were successful, compared with only 1 (6%) of 17 evaluated in HCM during the same period. The value of the mouse model in identifying pathological processes or therapeutic interventions in human cerebral malaria is questionable.
In December 2013, chikungunya virus (CHIKV) transmission was reported for the first time in the Americas. Since then it has spread quickly, with more than 1 million suspected and confirmed cases being reported in one year, where previously there were only sporadic travel-related cases. Transmission patterns suggest that the epidemic in the southern hemisphere is only beginning and that chikungunya will not go away anytime soon.
Highlights • Trichinella parasites are mainly searched in the wrong pigs. • Only free-ranging and backyard pigs are at risk for Trichinella infection. • Trichinella parasites cannot reach pigs reared under controlled housing conditions. • Trichinella control should be risk-based oriented.
Several questions on public health impact have arisen from the discovery of a large focus of the simian malaria parasite, Plasmodium knowlesi , in the human population. P. knowlesi malaria is not newly emergent and was overlooked until molecular tools to distinguish between P. knowlesi and the morphologically similar Plasmodium malariae became available. Knowlesi malaria is a zoonosis that is widely distributed in Southeast Asia and can be fatal. Information on knowlesi malaria should be included in medical and public health guidelines to encourage the accurate diagnosis and treatment of patients, and monitor the incidence and distribution of cases. A complete emergence of P. knowlesi into the human population could be overwhelming and, although challenging, the prevention of this situation deserves serious consideration.
Blastocystis is a ubiquitous enteric protistan parasite that has extensive genetic diversity and infects humans and many other animals. Distinct molecular methodologies developed to detect variation and obtain information about transmission patterns and clinical importance have resulted in a confusing array of terminologies for the identification and designation of Blastocystis subtypes. In this article, we propose a standardization of Blastocystis terminology to improve communication and correlate research results. Based primarily on published small-subunit ribosomal RNA gene analyses, we propose that all mammalian and avian isolates should be designated Blastocystis sp. and assigned to one of nine subtypes.
Although giardiasis is considered by most medical practitioners to be an easily treated infection, prolonged symptoms due to, or following, Giardia duodenalis infection can have a significant impact on quality of life. Symptom recurrence, including abdominal symptoms and fatigue, can result from re-infection, treatment failure, disturbances in the gut mucosa or post-infection syndromes. In developed countries, these sequelae can have an enormous impact on quality of life; in developing countries, particularly in children, they add yet another burden to populations that are already disadvantaged. Here, we outline current knowledge, based on individual case sequelae from sporadic infections, observations of population effects following outbreaks and studies of phenotypic and genotypic diversity between morphologically identical isolates of parasites. We also raise further questions, looking for clues as to why giardiasis sometimes becomes an intrusive, long-term problem.
Adipose tissue (AT) is no longer regarded as an inert lipid storage, but as an important central regulator in energy homeostasis and immunity. Three parasite species are uniquely associated with AT during part of their life cycle: Trypanosome cruzi, the causative agent of Chagas disease; Trypanosoma brucei, the causative agent of African sleeping sickness; and Plasmodium spp., the causative agents of malaria. In AT, T. cruzi resides inside adipocytes, T.. brucei is found in the interstitial spaces between adipocytes, while Plasmodium spp. infect red blood cells, which may adhere to the blood vessels supplying AT. Here, we discuss how each parasite species adapts to this tissue environment and what the implications are for pathogenesis, clinical manifestations, and therapy.
Highlights • We update the concept of preponderant clonal evolution (PCE) in micropathogens. • The main feature of PCE is restrained recombination. • PCE causes strong linkage disequilibrium and stable ‘near-clades’. • Micropathogen PCE could be either ancestral or the result of convergent evolution.
Several arthropod taxa live exclusively on vertebrate blood. This food source lacks essential metabolites required for the maintenance of metabolic homeostasis, and as such, these arthropods have formed symbioses with nutrient-supplementing microbes that facilitate their host's 'hematophagous' feeding ecology. Herein we highlight metabolic contributions of bacterial symbionts that reside within tsetse flies, bed bugs, lice, reduviid bugs, and ticks, with specific emphasis on B vitamin and cofactor biosynthesis. Importantly, these arthropods can transmit pathogens of medical and veterinary relevance and/or cause infestations that induce psychological and dermatological distress. Microbial metabolites, and the biochemical pathways that generate them, can serve as specific targets of novel control mechanisms aimed at disrupting the metabolism of hematophagous arthropods, thus combatting pest invasion and vector-borne pathogen transmission.