The amoeba Acanthamoeba castellanii infection model

Commonly used acronym: Infections using amoebae

Scope of the method

The Method relates to
  • Animal health
  • Environment
  • Human health
The Method is situated in
  • Basic Research
  • Education and training
  • Translational - Applied Research
Type of method
  • In vivo
Used species
Acanthamoeba castellanii
Targeted organ system or type of research
Host-pathogen interactions, infection models, virulence of pathogens and drug discovery.


Method keywords
  • host-pathogen interactions
  • cellular infections and host cell
  • pathogenicity
  • human pathogens and virulence
  • medium to high throughput infections
  • real time imaging
  • professional phagocytes
Scientific area keywords
  • Host-pathogen interactions
  • cellular infections
  • virulence assays and drug discovery
  • cytotoxicity assays
Method description

Amoebae are natural eukaryotic predators of bacteria, yeasts, fungi and they are ubiquiste. They are excellent and easy-to-use cellular infection models, as they allow to co-cultivate any organisms in a broad range of infection medium, compatible with high quality microscopy techniques, survival assays, drug screening methods. Amoebae are co-incubated with any organisms of interest using Petri dishes, multi well plate or on solid agar plates. Phagocytosis of non resistant organisms can be scored over time, and their potential intracellular behavior followed using basic techniques in microbiology.

Lab equipment
  • - Culture plates,
  • - Basic medium,
  • - Cellular biology equipment (no growth factor, no CO2 nor antibiotics are required).
Method status
  • Internally validated
  • Published in peer reviewed journal

Pros, cons & Future potential

  • - Cheap,
  • - Very easy to cultivate and maintain,
  • - No ethical issues,
  • - Published as "in vivo" infections,
  • - Compatible with real time microscopy techniques,
  • - Tolerate a high range of media, temperature and other environmental conditions,
  • - Established infection model,
  • - High throughput cellular infections,
  • - Interesting screening infection model.

This is an infection model. It should be implemented with human macrophages or other in vivo infections.


Not yet genetically tractable.

References, associated documents and other information


Van der Henst, C., Scrignari, T., Maclachlan, C. et al. An intracellular replication niche for Vibrio cholerae in the amoeba Acanthamoeba castellanii. ISME J 10, 897–910 (2016).

Van der Henst, C., Vanhove, A.S., Drebes Dörr, N.C. et al. Molecular insights into Vibrio cholerae’s intra-amoebal host-pathogen interactions. Nat Commun 9, 3460 (2018).

Contact person

Charles Van der Henst


Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB)
Bio-engineering Sciences
Brussels Region