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Volume 10, Pages 2019-2031
Review Article

A Lesson in Survival, by Giardia lamblia

Instituto de Investigación Médica Mercedes y Martín Ferreyra, INIMEC – CONICET, Córdoba, Argentina

Received 27 April 2010; Revised 27 September 2010; Accepted 28 September 2010

Academic Editor: Kim Barrett

Copyright © 2010 Andrea A. S. Rópolo and Maria M. C. Touz.


In the relationships between host and parasites, there is a cross-talk that involves diverse mechanisms developed by two different genetic systems during years of evolution. On the one hand, immunocompetent hosts have developed effective innate and acquired immune responses that are used to restrict or avoid parasitism. On the other hand, parasites evade the immune response, expressing different antigens on their surface or by using other specific mechanisms, such as nutrient depletion. In this review, we analyze the survival mechanisms used by the protozoan parasite Giardia lamblia during infection. In particular, we examine the multiple roles played by the enzyme arginine deiminase during colonization of the gut, also involving the parasite's mechanism of antigenic variation. Potential drug targets for the treatment of giardiasis are also discussed.