Targeting apoptosis pathways in infections

Thomas Naderer, Maria Cecilia Fulcher

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


The programmed cell death pathway of apoptosis is essential for mammalian development and immunity as it eliminates unwanted and dangerous cells. As part of the cellular immune response, apoptosis removes the replicative niche of intracellular pathogens and enables the resolution of infections. To subvert apoptosis, pathogens have evolved a diverse range of mechanisms. In some circumstances, however, pathogens express effector molecules that induce apoptotic cell death. In this review, we focus on selected host-pathogen interactions that affect apoptotic pathways. We discuss how pathogens control the fate of host cells and how this determines the outcome of infections. Finally, small molecule inhibitors that activate apoptosis in cancer cells can also induce apoptotic cell death of infected cells. This suggests that targeting host death factors to kill infected cells is a potential therapeutic option to treat infectious diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-285
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of leukocyte biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018


  • BCL-2
  • caspase
  • cell death
  • inflammation
  • Legionella
  • mitochondria

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