Cryptosporidium is a ubiquitous protozoan parasite that infects gut epithelial cells and causes self-limited diarrhea in immunocompetent individuals. However, in immunocompromised hosts with global defects in T cell function, this infection can result in chronic, life-threatening disease. In addition, there is a subset of individuals with primary immunodeficiencies associated with increased risk for life-threatening cryptosporidiosis. These patients highlight MHC class II expression, CD40–CD40L interactions, NF-κB signaling, and IL-21 as key host factors required for resistance to this enteric pathogen. Understanding which immune deficiencies do (or do not) lead to increased risk for severe Cryptosporidium may reveal mechanisms of parasite restriction and aid in the identification of novel strategies to manage this common pathogen in immunocompetent and deficient hosts.

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