Leishmaniasis pp 667-676 | Cite as

Leishmania Amastigotes: Adaptations for Growth in an Acidic in vivo Environment

  • Antony J. Mukkada
  • Theresa A. Glaser
  • Steven A. Anderson
  • Steven K. Wells
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (NSSA, volume 171)


The amastigote stage of Leishmania is an obligate intracellular parasite proliferating within the phagolysosomes of macrophages in vertebrate hosts (1,12). The macrophage represents a hostile environment for most microbes since it is endowed with mechanisms designed to destroy conventional organisms after phagocytosis. A limited number of parasites such as the agents of trypanosomiasis, toxoplasmosis, tuberculosis, leprosy, legionnaires’ disease and epidemic typhus can resist killing by macrophages. These agents escape destruction by developing adaptive devices which generally prevent or minimize contact between them and the microbicidal substances within the lysosomes (2,6,9,17,19). Leishmania species are unique in that they allow fusion of the phagosome with lysosomes but survive and multiply in the resulting phagolysosomes. The phagolysosomal environment in murine, and human phagocytes is distinctly acidic with a pH between 4.0 and 5.0 (4,7,8). Amastigote survival in vivo must involve strategies affecting several levels of host parasite interactions. However, this discussion will be restricted to some of the adaptations which enable the parasite to cope with an acidic environment.


Leishmania Species Proton Extrusion Plasma Membrane ATPase Cell BioI Leishmania AMASTIGOTES 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Antony J. Mukkada
    • 1
  • Theresa A. Glaser
    • 1
  • Steven A. Anderson
    • 1
  • Steven K. Wells
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of CincinnatiCincinnatiUSA

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