Metabolic crosstalk between host and pathogen: sensing, adapting and competing

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2016 Apr;14(4):221-34. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro.2016.12. Epub 2016 Mar 7.


Our understanding of bacterial pathogenesis is dominated by the cell biology of the host-pathogen interaction. However, the majority of metabolites that are used in prokaryotic and eukaryotic physiology and signalling are chemically similar or identical. Therefore, the metabolic crosstalk between pathogens and host cells may be as important as the interactions between bacterial effector proteins and their host targets. In this Review we focus on host-pathogen interactions at the metabolic level: chemical signalling events that enable pathogens to sense anatomical location and the local physiology of the host; microbial metabolic pathways that are dedicated to circumvent host immune mechanisms; and a few metabolites as central points of competition between the host and bacterial pathogens.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / metabolism
  • Bacteria / pathogenicity*
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions*
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors
  • Virulence Factors / genetics


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Virulence Factors