Protists are a diverse collection of eukaryotic organisms that account for a significant global infection burden. Often, the immune responses mounted against these parasites cause excessive inflammation and therefore pathology in the host. Elucidating the mechanisms of both protective and harmful immune responses is complex, and often relies of the use of animal models. In any immune response, leucocyte trafficking to the site of infection, or inflammation, is paramount, and this involves the production of chemokines, small chemotactic cytokines of approximately 8–10 kDa in size, which bind to specific chemokine receptors to induce leucocyte movement. Herein, the scientific literature investigating the role of chemokines in the propagation of immune responses against key protist infections will be reviewed, focussing on Plasmodium species, Toxoplasma gondii, Leishmania species and Cryptosporidium species. Interestingly, many studies find that chemokines can in fact, promote parasite survival in the host, by drawing in leucocytes for spread and further replication. Recent developments in drug targeting against chemokine receptors highlights the need for further understanding of the role played by these proteins and their receptors in many different diseases.
- Chemokine receptor