Three encephalitis-causing amoebae and their distinct interactions with the host

Maarten J. Sarink, Nadia L. van der Meijs, Kristin Denzer, Leo Koenderman, Aloysius G.M. Tielens, Jaap J. van Hellemond*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Naegleria fowleri, Balamuthia mandrillaris, and Acanthamoeba spp. can cause devastating brain infections in humans which almost always result in death. The symptoms of the three infections overlap, but brain inflammation and the course of the disease differ, depending on the amoeba that is responsible. Understanding the differences between these amoebae can result in the development of strategies to prevent and treat these infections. Recently, numerous scientific advancements have been made in the understanding of pathogenicity mechanisms in general, and the basic biology, epidemiology, and the human immune response towards these amoebae in particular. In this review, we combine this knowledge and aim to identify which factors can explain the differences between the lethal brain infections caused by N. fowleri, B. mandrillaris, and Acanthamoeba spp.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)230-245
Number of pages16
JournalTrends in Parasitology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


  • Acanthamoeba
  • Balamuthia mandrillaris
  • central nervous system
  • host–pathogen interactions
  • immunity
  • Naegleria fowleri
  • protozoal infections


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