Most humans infected with the virulent protozoan parasite Entamoeba histolytica do not develop invasive disease. Available evidence indicates that beneficial bacteria and the mucus gel layer in the colon lumen protect the host mucosa. Glycosidases produced by some normal colonic bacteria and luminal proteases degrade the key adherence lectin on E. histolytica trophozoites and decrease their adherence to epithelial cells. The mucus gel layer prevents those trophozoites that escape the hydrolases from reaching the epithelial cells. Trophozoite mucosal invasion is triggered only when both protective mechanisms are lost, as might occur during an unrelated pathogenic enteric bacterial infection. A newly developed gnotobiotic model of intestinal amebiasis should enable testing of this hypothesis and provide clues to help design practical studies in humans.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases