Invasion of Host Cells by Microsporidia

Bing Han, Peter M. Takvorian, Louis M. Weiss

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Microsporidia are found worldwide and both vertebrates and invertebrates can serve as hosts for these organisms. While microsporidiosis in humans can occur in both immune competent and immune compromised hosts, it has most often been seen in the immune suppressed population, e.g., patients with advanced HIV infection, patients who have had organ transplantation, those undergoing chemotherapy, or patients using other immune suppressive agents. Infection can be associated with either focal infection in a specific organ (e.g., keratoconjunctivitis, cerebritis, or hepatitis) or with disseminated disease. The most common presentation of microsporidiosis being gastrointestinal infection with chronic diarrhea and wasting syndrome. In the setting of advanced HIV infection or other cases of profound immune deficiency microsporidiosis can be extremely debilitating and carries a significant mortality risk. Microsporidia are transmitted as spores which invade host cells by a specialized invasion apparatus the polar tube (PT). This review summarizes recent studies that have provided information on the composition of the spore wall and PT, as well as insights into the mechanism of invasion and interaction of the PT and spore wall with host cells during infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number172
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
StatePublished - Feb 18 2020


  • cell–host interaction
  • invasion apparatus
  • microsporidia
  • polar tube
  • spore wall
  • sporoplasm

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)


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