Phospholipids in parasitic protozoa

Henri J. Vial*, Patrick Eldin, Aloysius G.M. Tielens, Jaap J. Van Hellemond

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

119 Citations (Scopus)


Parasitic protozoa are surrounded by membrane structures that have a different lipid and protein composition relative to membranes of the host. The parasite membranes are essential structurally and also for parasite specific processes, like host cell invasion, nutrient acquisition or protection against the host immune system. Furthermore, intracellular parasites can modulate membranes of their host, and trafficking of membrane components occurs between host membranes and those of the intracellular parasite. Phospholipids are major membrane components and, although many parasites scavenge these phospholipids from their host, most parasites also synthesise phospholipids de novo, or modify a large part of the scavenged phospholipids. It was recently shown that some parasites like Plasmodium have unique phospholipid metabolic pathways. This review will focus on new developments in research on phospholipid metabolism of parasitic protozoa in relation to parasite-specific membrane structures and function, as well as on several targets for interference with the parasite phospholipid metabolism with a view to developing new anti-parasitic drugs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-154
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular and Biochemical Parasitology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2003
Externally publishedYes


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