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BioMed Research International
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 819389, 15 pages
Review Article

Iron Homeostasis and Trypanosoma brucei Associated Immunopathogenicity Development: A Battle/Quest for Iron

1Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Immunology, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), 1050 Brussels, Belgium
2Department of Myeloid Cell Immunology, Vlaams Instituut voor Biotechnologie (VIB), 1050 Brussels, Belgium
3Department of Structural Biology, Vlaams Instituut voor Biotechnologie (VIB), 1050 Brussels, Belgium

Received 7 October 2014; Revised 11 February 2015; Accepted 15 February 2015

Academic Editor: Rossana Arroyo

Copyright © 2015 Benoit Stijlemans et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


African trypanosomosis is a chronic debilitating disease affecting the health and economic well-being of developing countries. The immune response during African trypanosome infection consisting of a strong proinflammatory M1-type activation of the myeloid phagocyte system (MYPS) results in iron deprivation for these extracellular parasites. Yet, the persistence of M1-type MYPS activation causes the development of anemia (anemia of chronic disease, ACD) as a most prominent pathological parameter in the mammalian host, due to enhanced erythrophagocytosis and retention of iron within the MYPS thereby depriving iron for erythropoiesis. In this review we give an overview of how parasites acquire iron from the host and how iron modulation of the host MYPS affects trypanosomosis-associated anemia development. Finally, we also discuss different strategies at the level of both the host and the parasite that can/might be used to modulate iron availability during African trypanosome infections.