Affiliation: Department of Microbiology, M409 Walters Life Sciences, 1414 W. Cumberland Ave., Knoxville, TN 37996, USA.
Parasitic protozoa are major threats to human health affecting millions of people around the world. Control of these infections by the host immune system relies on a myriad of immunological mechanisms that includes both humoral and cellular immunity. CD8+ T cells contribute to the control of these parasitic infections in both animals and humans. Here, we will focus on the CD8+ T cell response against a subset of these protozoa: Plasmodium, Toxoplasma gondii, Leishmania and Trypanosoma cruzi, with an emphasis on experimental rodent systems. It is evident a complex interaction occurs between CD8+ T cells and the invading protozoa. A detailed understanding of how CD8+ T cells mediate protection should provide the basis for the development of effective vaccines that prevent and control infections by these parasites.