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Exp Parasitol. 2010 Nov;126(3):318-25. doi: 10.1016/j.exppara.2010.05.008. Epub 2010 May 21.

Regulation of CD8+ T cell responses to infection with parasitic protozoa.

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Department of Pathobiology, University of Pennsylvania, 380 South University Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


There are over 10,000 species of parasitic protozoa, a subset of which can cause considerable disease in humans. Here we examine in detail the complex immune response generated during infection with a subset of these parasites: Trypanosoma cruzi, Leishmania sp., Toxoplasma gondii, and Plasmodium sp. While these particular species perhaps represent the most studied parasites in terms of understanding how T cells function during infection, it is clear that the lessons learned from this body of work are also relevant to the other protozoa known to induce a CD8(+) T cell response. This review will highlight some of the key studies that established that CD8(+) T cells play a major role in protective immunity to protozoa, the factors that promote the generation as well as maintenance of the CD8(+) T cell response during these infections, and draw attention to some of the gaps in our knowledge. Moreover, the development of new tools, including MHC-Class I tetramer reagents and the use of TCR transgenic mice or genetically modified parasites, has provided a better appreciation of how parasite specific CD8(+) T cell responses are initiated and new insights into their phenotypic plasticity.

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