Acanthamoeba Castellanii Metabolites Increase the Intracellular Calcium Level and Cause Cytotoxicity in Wish Cells

Microb Pathog. 1997 Aug;23(2):85-93. doi: 10.1006/mpat.1997.0138.


Previous studies have shown that trophozoites of the pathogenic free-living amoeba Acanthamoeba castellanii rapidly lyse a variety of cells in vitro. However, the role played by cytolitic molecules that may participate in Acanthamoebal cytopathogenicity has yet to be completely elucidated. The aim of this work was to study whether soluble molecules released by A. castellanii trophozoites could induce cytopathic effect in human epithelial cells in vitro. The results obtained indicate that A. castellanii trophozoites constitutively elaborate and release soluble factors that immediately elicit a cytosolic free-calcium increase in target cells. This phenomenon is induced by low molecular weight amoebic metabolites and depends on a transmembrane influx of extracellular calcium. Morphological changes, cytoskeletal damage, cell death and cytolysis followed the elevation of cytosolic free-calcium levels. Calcium ions are very important for cell homeostasis, in fact, they control the functions of a variety of cellular responses, including secretion, cell proliferation and apoptosis. Our results suggest that the substained elevation of the cytosolic free-calcium in response to A. castellanii metabolites might play a fundamental role in target cell damage during Acanthamoeba infections.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acanthamoeba / metabolism
  • Acanthamoeba / pathogenicity*
  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Cell Line
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Epithelium / microbiology
  • Epithelium / pathology
  • Humans


  • Calcium