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Journal of Parasitology Research
Volume 2012, Article ID 852591, 11 pages
Review Article

Comparison of Protective Immune Responses to Apicomplexan Parasites

1The ithree Institute, University of Technology Sydney, P.O. Box 123, Broadway, Sydney, NSW 2007, Australia
2Institute of Zoology, Technical University Dresden, Mommsenstraße 13, 01062 Dresden, Germany

Received 9 May 2011; Accepted 27 June 2011

Academic Editor: Hugo D. Lujan

Copyright © 2012 Sonja Frölich 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.


Members of the phylum Apicomplexa, which includes the species Plasmodium, Eimeria, Toxoplasma, and Babesia amongst others, are the most successful intracellular pathogens known to humankind. The widespread acquisition of antimicrobial resistance to most drugs used to date has sparked a great deal of research and commercial interest in the development of vaccines as alternative control strategies. A few antigens from the asexual and sexual stages of apicomplexan development have been identified and their genes characterised; however, the fine cellular and molecular details of the effector mechanisms crucial for parasite inhibition and stimulation of protective immunity are still not entirely understood. This paper provides an overview of what is currently known about the protective immune response against the various types of apicomplexan parasites and focuses mainly on the similarities of these pathogens and their host interaction. Finally, the evolutionary relationships of these parasites and their hosts, as well as the modulation of immune functions that are critical in determining the outcome of the infection by these pathogenic organisms, are discussed.