Pumping iron: a potential target for novel therapeutics against schistosomes

Trends Parasitol. 2007 Dec;23(12):583-8. doi: 10.1016/j.pt.2007.08.018. Epub 2007 Oct 24.


Parasites, as with the vast majority of organisms, are dependent on iron. Pathogens must compete directly with the host for this essential trace metal, which is sequestered within host proteins and inorganic chelates. Not surprisingly, pathogenic prokaryotes and eukaryotic parasites have diverse adaptations to exploit host iron resources. How pathogenic bacteria scavenge host iron is well characterized and is reasonably well known for a few parasitic protozoa, but is poorly understood for metazoan parasites. Strategies of iron acquisition by schistosomes are examined here, with emphasis on possible mechanisms of iron absorption from host serum iron transporters or from digested haem. Elucidation of these metabolic mechanisms could lead to the development of new interventions for the control of schistosomiasis and other helminth diseases.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Host-Parasite Interactions
  • Humans
  • Iron / deficiency
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • Nutritional Requirements*
  • Schistosoma / growth & development
  • Schistosoma / metabolism*
  • Schistosoma / pathogenicity*
  • Schistosomiasis / metabolism
  • Schistosomiasis / parasitology*


  • Iron