The Complex Interplay of Parasites, Their Hosts, and Circadian Clocks

Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2019 Dec 12;9:425. doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2019.00425. eCollection 2019.


Parasites have evolved various mechanisms to favor infection of their hosts and enhance the success of the infection. In this respect, time-of-day effects were found during the course of parasitic infections, which can be caused or controlled by circadian rhythms in the physiology of their vertebrate hosts. These include circadian clock-controlled rhythms in metabolism and in immune responses. Conversely, parasites can also modulate their hosts' behavioral and cellular rhythms. Lastly, parasites themselves were in some cases shown to possess their own circadian clock mechanisms, which can influence their capacity to infect their hosts. A better knowledge of the circadian regulation of host-parasite interactions will help in designing new preventive and therapeutic strategies for parasitic diseases.

Keywords: behavior; circadian clock; circadian rhythms; host; immune response; infection; parasite.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Botrytis / physiology
  • Cell Physiological Phenomena / physiology
  • Circadian Clocks / physiology*
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Helminths / physiology
  • Host-Parasite Interactions / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Leishmania / physiology
  • Mice
  • Parasitic Diseases / immunology*
  • Parasitic Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Plasmodium / physiology
  • Trypanosoma / physiology

Grant support