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The host mTOR pathway and parasitic diseases pathogenesis

  • Rashidi, Sajad1
  • Mansouri, Reza2
  • Ali-Hassanzadeh, Mohammad3
  • Mojtahedi, Zahra4
  • Shafiei, Reza5
  • Savardashtaki, Amir1
  • Hamidizadeh, Nasrin1
  • Karimazar, Mohammadreza1
  • Nguewa, Paul6
  • Manzano-Román, Raúl7
  • 1 Shiraz University of Medical Sciences,
  • 2 Shahid Sadoughi University of Medical Sciences and Health Services,
  • 3 Department of Immunology, School of Medicine, Jiroft University of Medical Sciences, Jiroft, Iran
  • 4 University of Nevada, Las Vegas,
  • 5 North Khorasan University of Medical Sciences,
  • 6 University of Navarra,
  • 7 Proteomics Unit, Cancer Research Centre (IBMCC/CSIC/USAL/IBSAL), 37007 Salamanca, Spain
Published Article
Parasitology Research
Publication Date
Feb 03, 2021
DOI: 10.1007/s00436-021-07070-6
PMID: 33534053
PMCID: PMC7856335
PubMed Central
  • Immunology and Host-Parasite Interactions - Review


The mechanistic (or mammalian) target of rapamycin (mTOR) is considered as a critical regulatory enzyme involved in essential signaling pathways affecting cell growth, cell proliferation, protein translation, regulation of cellular metabolism, and cytoskeletal structure. Also, mTOR signaling has crucial roles in cell homeostasis via processes such as autophagy. Autophagy prevents many pathogen infections and is involved on immunosurveillance and pathogenesis. Immune responses and autophagy are therefore key host responses and both are linked by complex mTOR regulatory mechanisms. In recent years, the mTOR pathway has been highlighted in different diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and infectious and parasitic diseases including leishmaniasis, toxoplasmosis, and malaria. The current review underlines the implications of mTOR signals and intricate networks on pathogen infections and the modulation of this master regulator by parasites. Parasitic infections are able to induce dynamic metabolic reprogramming leading to mTOR alterations in spite of many other ways impacting this regulatory network. Accordingly, the identification of parasite effects and interactions over such a complex modulation might reveal novel information regarding the biology of the abovementioned parasites and might allow the development of therapeutic strategies against parasitic diseases. In this sense, the effects of inhibiting the mTOR pathways are also considered in this context in the light of their potential for the prevention and treatment of parasitic diseases.

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