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Immunol Rev. 2015 May;265(1):156-71. doi: 10.1111/imr.12291.

Inflammasomes in host response to protozoan parasites.

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Department of Cell Biology, School of Medicine of Ribeirão Preto, University of São Paulo, Ribeirão Preto, Brazil.


Inflammasomes are multimeric complexes of proteins that are assembled in the host cell cytoplasm in response to specific stress signals or contamination of the cytoplasm by microbial molecules. The canonical inflammasomes are composed of at least three main components: an inflammatory caspase (caspase-1, caspase-11), an adapter molecule (such as ASC), and a sensor protein (such as NLRP1, NLRP3, NLRP12, NAIP1, NAIP2, NAIP5, or AIM2). The sensor molecule determines the inflammasome specificity by detecting specific microbial products or cell stress signals. Upon activation, these molecular platforms facilitate restriction of microbial replication and trigger an inflammatory form of cell death called pyroptosis, thus accounting for the genesis of inflammatory processes. Inflammasome activation has been widely reported in response to pathogenic bacteria. However, recent reports have highlighted the important role of the inflammasomes in the host response to the pathogenesis of infections caused by intracellular protozoan parasites. Herein, we review the activation and specific roles of inflammasomes in recognition and host responses to intracellular protozoan parasites such as Trypanosoma cruzi, Toxoplasma gondii, Plasmodium spp., and Leishmania spp.


Leishmania; Plasmodium; Toxoplasma; Trypanosoma; caspase-1; inflammasomes

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