Chagas disease etiology: autoimmunity or parasite persistence?

Parasitol Today. 1999 Mar;15(3):94-9. doi: 10.1016/s0169-4758(99)01398-8.


The question of the cause and the mechanisms of disease in chronic Trypanosoma cruzi infection continues to attract debate. Chagas disease, characterized by cardiomyopathy and/or megasyndrome involving the esophagus or colon, occurs in approximately 30% of individuals with chronic T. cruzi infections. Although the pathogenesis of Chagas disease is often attributed to autoimmune mechanisms, definitive proof of anti-self responses as the primary cause of disease in T. cruzi-infected hosts is lacking. Rick Tarleton and Lei Zhang here consider an alternative view that the primary cause of chronic Chagas disease is the failure of the host to clear the infection, resulting in infection-induced, immune-mediated tissue damage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmunity*
  • Chagas Disease / etiology*
  • Chagas Disease / immunology
  • Chagas Disease / parasitology
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Trypanosoma cruzi / physiology*