Biology of Human Pathogenic Trypanosomatids: Epidemiology, Lifecycle and Ultrastructure

  • Juliany Cola Fernandes Rodrigues
  • Joseane Lima Prado Godinho
  • Wanderley de Souza
Part of the Subcellular Biochemistry book series (SCBI, volume 74)


Leishmania and Trypanosoma belong to the Trypanosomatidae family and cause important human infections such as leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, and sleeping sickness. Leishmaniasis, caused by protozoa belonging to Leishmania, affects about 12 million people worldwide and can present different clinical manifestations, i.e., visceral leishmaniasis (VL), cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL), mucocutaneous leishmaniasis (MCL), diffuse cutaneous leishmaniasis (DCL), and post-kala-azar dermal leishmaniasis (PKDL). Chagas disease, also known as American trypanosomiasis, is caused by Trypanosoma cruzi and is mainly prevalent in Latin America but is increasingly occurring in the United States, Canada, and Europe. Sleeping sickness or human African trypanosomiasis (HAT), caused by two sub-species of Trypanosoma brucei (i.e., T. b. rhodesiense and T. b. gambiense), occurs only in sub-Saharan Africa countries. These pathogenic trypanosomatids alternate between invertebrate and vertebrate hosts throughout their lifecycles, and different developmental stages can live inside the host cells and circulate in the bloodstream or in the insect gut. Trypanosomatids have a classical eukaryotic ultrastructural organization with some of the same main organelles found in mammalian host cells, while also containing special structures and organelles that are absent in other eukaryotic organisms. For example, the mitochondrion is ramified and contains a region known as the kinetoplast, which houses the mitochondrial DNA. Also, the glycosomes are specialized peroxisomes containing glycolytic pathway enzymes. Moreover, a layer of subpellicular microtubules confers mechanic rigidity to the cell. Some of these structures have been investigated to determine their function and identify potential enzymes and metabolic pathways that may constitute targets for new chemotherapeutic drugs.


Visceral Leishmaniasis Protozoan Parasite Cutaneous Leishmaniasis Human African Trypanosomiasis Bloodstream Form 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Financial support has been provided to the authors by Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq), Fundação Carlos Chagas Filho de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (FAPERJ), Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES), and Financiadora de Estudos e Projetos (FINEP). We are grateful to the following people that help with some images: Thiago Luiz de Barros Moreira, Juliana Vidal, Dr. Thais Cristina Souto Padron, Dr. Narcisa Leal da Cunha-e-Silva and Dr. Marcia Attias.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Juliany Cola Fernandes Rodrigues
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Joseane Lima Prado Godinho
    • 1
    • 2
  • Wanderley de Souza
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Laboratório de Ultraestrutura Celular Hertha Meyer, Instituto de Biofísica Carlos Chagas Filho, Centro de Ciências da SaúdeUniversidade Federal do Rio de JaneiroRio de JaneiroBrazil
  2. 2.Instituto Nacional de Ciência e Tecnologia de Biologia Estrutural e BioimagemRio de JaneiroBrazil
  3. 3.Instituto Nacional de Metrologia, Qualidade e TecnologiaRio de JaneiroBrazil
  4. 4.Polo Avançado de XerémUniversidade Federal do Rio de JaneiroRio de JaneiroBrazil

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