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The dynamic interdependence of amebiasis, innate immunity, and undernutrition.

Entamoeba histolytica, the protozoan parasite that causes amebic dysentery, greatly contributes to disease burden in the developing world. Efforts to exhaustively characterize the pathogenesis of amebiasis have increased our understanding of the dynamic host-parasite interaction and the process by which E. histolytica trophozoites transition from gut commensals to invaders of the intestinal epithelium. Mouse models of disease continue to be instrumental in this area. At the same time, large-scale studies in human populations have identified genetic and environmental factors that influence susceptibility to amebiasis. Nutritional status has long been known to globally influence immune function. So it is not surprising that undernutrition has emerged as a critical risk factor. A better understanding of how nutritional status affects immunity to E. histolytica will have dramatic implications in the development of novel treatments. Future work should continue to characterize the fascinating host-parasite arms race that occurs at each stage of infection.

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