Vaughan AM, Kappe SH, et al.
Center for Infectious Disease Research, formerly Seattle Biomedical Research Institute, Seattle, Washington 98109.
Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in medicine. Feb 2017.
In their infection cycle, malaria parasites undergo replication and population expansions within the vertebrate host and the mosquito vector. Host infection initiates with sporozoite invasion of hepatocytes, followed by a dramatic parasite amplification event during liver stage parasite growth and replication within hepatocytes. Each liver stage forms up to 90,000 exoerythrocytic merozoites, which are in turn capable of initiating a blood stage infection. Liver stages not only exploit host hepatocyte resources for nutritional needs but also endeavor to prevent hepatocyte cell death and detection by the host’s immune system. Research over the past decade has identified numerous parasite factors that play a critical role during liver infection and has started to delineate a complex web of parasite-host interactions that sustain successful parasite colonization of the mammalian host. Targeting the parasites’ obligatory infection of the liver as a gateway to the blood, with drugs and vaccines, constitutes the most effective strategy for malaria eradication, as it would prevent clinical disease and onward transmission of the parasite.