Journal of Biosciences

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 423–432 | Cite as

Pathogenesis of infection byEntamoeba histolytica

  • Devinder Sehgal
  • Alok Bhattacharya
  • Sudha Bhattacharya


Entamoeba histolytica, a protozoan parasite, is the etiologic agent of amoebiasis in humans. It exists in two forms—the trophozoite which is the active, dividing form, and the cyst which is dormant and can survive for prolonged periods outside the host. In most infected individuals the trophozoites exist as commensals. In a small percentage of infections, the trophozoites become invasive and penetrate the intestinal mucosa, causing ulcers. The trophozoites may reach other parts of the body—mainly liver, where they cause tissue necrosis, leading to lifethreatening abscesses. It is thought that pathogenesis of infection byEntamoeba histolytica is governed at several levels, chief among them are (i) adherence of trophozoite to the target cell, (ii) lysis of target cell, and (iii) phagocytosis of target cell. Several molecules which may be involved in these processes have been identified. A lectin inhibitable by galactose and N-acetyl-D-galactosamine is present on the trophozoite surface. This is implicated in adherence of trophozoite to the target cell. Various amoebic poreforming proteins are known, of which 5kDa protein (amoebapore) has been extensively studied. These can insert into the lipid bilayers of target cells, forming ion-channels. The phagocytic potential of trophozoites is directly linked to virulence as measured in animal models. Factors like association of bacteria with trophozoites also influence virulence. Thus, pathogenesis is determined by multiple factors and a unifying picture taking into account the relative contributions of each factor is sought. Recent technical advances, which includes the development of a transfection system to introduce genes into trophozoites, should help to understand the mechanism of pathogenesis in amoebiasis.


Entamoeba histolytica pathogenesis amoebiasis 


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Copyright information

© Indian Academy of Sciences 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Devinder Sehgal
    • 1
  • Alok Bhattacharya
    • 1
  • Sudha Bhattacharya
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Life SciencesJawaharlal Nehru UniversityNew DelhiIndia
  2. 2.School of Environmental SciencesJawaharlal Nehru UniversityNew DelhiIndia

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