"Omic" investigations of protozoa and worms for a deeper understanding of the human gut "parasitome"

PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2017 Nov 2;11(11):e0005916. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0005916. eCollection 2017 Nov.


The human gut has been continuously exposed to a broad spectrum of intestinal organisms, including viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites (protozoa and worms), over millions of years of coevolution, and plays a central role in human health. The modern lifestyles of Western countries, such as the adoption of highly hygienic habits, the extensive use of antimicrobial drugs, and increasing globalisation, have dramatically altered the composition of the gut milieu, especially in terms of its eukaryotic "citizens." In the past few decades, numerous studies have highlighted the composition and role of human intestinal bacteria in physiological and pathological conditions, while few investigations exist on gut parasites and particularly on their coexistence and interaction with the intestinal microbiota. Studies of the gut "parasitome" through "omic" technologies, such as (meta)genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics, are herein reviewed to better understand their role in the relationships between intestinal parasites, host, and resident prokaryotes, whether pathogens or commensals. Systems biology-based profiles of the gut "parasitome" under physiological and severe disease conditions can indeed contribute to the control of infectious diseases and offer a new perspective of omics-assisted tropical medicine.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Entamoeba histolytica / genetics
  • Entamoeba histolytica / metabolism
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / parasitology*
  • Genomics*
  • Giardia / genetics
  • Giardia / metabolism
  • Helminths / genetics
  • Helminths / physiology
  • Host-Parasite Interactions*
  • Humans
  • Metabolomics*
  • Mice
  • Parasites / physiology*
  • Proteomics*
  • Taenia solium / genetics
  • Taenia solium / metabolism

Grant support

LP received founding by Italian Ministry of Health for Ricerca Corrente 2016 titled “Interpretation of disease phenotypes in term of host-microbiota-exposome interactions: the new role of systems medicine in paediatrics.” The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.