Escape mechanisms of African trypanosomes: why trypanosomosis is keeping us awake.

TitleEscape mechanisms of African trypanosomes: why trypanosomosis is keeping us awake.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsCnops, J., S. Magez, and C. De Trez
Date Published2015 Mar
KeywordsAnimals, Antigenic Variation, Host-Parasite Interactions, Humans, Immune Evasion, Immunity, Innate, Immunoglobulin Variable Region, Insect Vectors, Trypanosoma brucei brucei, Trypanosomiasis, African, Tsetse Flies

African trypanosomes have been around for more than 100 million years, and have adapted to survival in a very wide host range. While various indigenous African mammalian host species display a tolerant phenotype towards this parasitic infection, and hence serve as perpetual reservoirs, many commercially important livestock species are highly disease susceptible. When considering humans, they too display a highly sensitive disease progression phenotype for infections with Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense or Trypanosoma brucei gambiense, while being intrinsically resistant to infections with other trypanosome species. As extracellular trypanosomes proliferate and live freely in the bloodstream and lymphatics, they are constantly exposed to the immune system. Due to co-evolution, this environment however no longer poses a hostile threat, but has become the niche environment where trypanosomes thrive and obligatory await transmission through the bites of tsetse flies or other haematophagic vectors, ideally without causing severe side infection-associated pathology to their host. Hence, African trypanosomes have acquired various mechanisms to manipulate and control the host immune response, evading effective elimination. Despite the extensive research into trypanosomosis over the past 40 years, many aspects of the anti-parasite immune response remain to be solved and no vaccine is currently available. Here we review the recent work on the different escape mechanisms employed by African Trypanosomes to ensure infection chronicity and transmission potential.

Alternate JournalParasitology
PubMed ID25479093
Research group: