- Received Date: 2010-11-02
Abstract: Apicomplexan protozoan parasites of the genus Cryptosporidium infect the gastrointestinal tract and lungs of a wide variety of animals, including humans. The majority of human infections are due to either Cryptosporid-ium hominis (C. hominis) and/or Cryptosporidium parvum (C. parvum). The parasite has a complex life cycle that includes both asexual and sexual stages. While there are invasive free living stages, proliferation and differentia-tion take place within a unique parasitrophorous vacuole under the host cell brush border but outside the host cell cytoplasm. Infection is spread by environmentally resistant spores that primarily contaminate drinking water and occasionally food sources, which may cause significant outbreaks of diarrhea that generally lasts less than 2 w in immunocompetent individuals. In immunodeficient or immunosuppressed individuals, diarrhea may be copi-ous and can result in significant morbidity and mortality, particularly in AIDS patients. Although diagnosis is relatively simple, effective drug treatment, particulary for infections in immunodeficient patients, has not been uniformly successful. This overview summarizes the species known to infect humans, aspects of the parasite life cycle, sources of infection, the pathophysiology of cryptosporidiosis, the immune response to infection, diagnosis, treatment and some aspects of cryptosporidiosis in China.