Glycosphingolipids in human parasites.

Cummings RD. Glycosphingolipids in human parasites. FEBS open bio. 2023;13(9):1625–1635.


Glycosphingolipids (GSLs) are comprised of glycans (oligosaccharides) linked to a lipid containing a sphingosine moiety. They are major membrane components in cells of most animals, and importantly, they also occur in parasitic protozoans and worms that infect people. While the endogenous functions of the GSLs in most parasites are elusive, many of these GSLs are recognized by antibodies in infected human and animal hosts, and thus, their structures, biosynthesis, and functions are of great interest. Such knowledge of GSLs could lead to new drugs and diagnostics for treating infections, as well as novel vaccine strategies. The diversity of GSLs recently identified in such infectious organisms and aspects of their immune recognition are major topics of this review. It is not intended to be exhaustive but to highlight aspects of GSL glycans in human parasites.

Last updated on 11/02/2023