Nutritional immunity is a form of innate immunity widespread in both vertebrates and invertebrates. The term refers to a rich repertoire of mechanisms set up by the host to inhibit bacterial proliferation by sequestering trace minerals (mainly iron, but also zinc and manganese). This strategy, selected by evolution, represents an effective front-line defense against pathogens and has thus inspired the exploitation of iron restriction in the development of innovative antimicrobials or enhancers of antimicrobial therapy. This review focuses on the mechanisms of nutritional immunity, the strategies adopted by opportunistic human pathogen Staphylococcus aureus to circumvent it, and the impact of deletion mutants on the fitness, infectivity, and persistence inside the host. This information finally converges in an overview of the current development of inhibitors targeting the different stages of iron uptake, an as-yet unexploited target in the field of antistaphylococcal drug discovery.
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