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Concept: Digenea


Schistosomiasis is a chronic disease caused by trematode flatworms of the genus Schistosoma. The disease remains a serious public health problem in endemic countries and affects at least 207 million people worldwide. A definite diagnosis of the disease plays a key role in the control of schistosomiasis. The detection of schistosome circulating antigens (CAs) is an effective approach to discriminate between previous exposure and current infection. Different methods have been investigated for detecting the CAs. However, the components of the schistosome CAs remain unclear. In this study, we analyzed the CAs in sera of patients infected with Schistosoma japonicum.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Medical terms, Schistosomiasis, Schistosoma, Digenea, Flatworm, Schistosoma japonicum, Trematoda


The study of host-parasite interactions has increased considerably in the last decades, with many studies focusing on the identification of parasite molecules (i.e. surface or excretory/secretory proteins (ESP)) as potential targets for new specific treatments and/or diagnostic tools. In parallel, in the last few years there have been significant advances in the field of extracellular vesicles research. Among these vesicles, exosomes of endocytic origin, with a characteristic size ranging from 30-100 nm, carry several atypical secreted proteins in different organisms, including parasitic protozoa. Here, we present experimental evidence for the existence of exosome-like vesicles in parasitic helminths, specifically the trematodes Echinostoma caproni and Fasciola hepatica. These microvesicles are actively released by the parasites and are taken up by host cells. Trematode extracellular vesicles contain most of the proteins previously identified as components of ESP, as confirmed by proteomic, immunogold labeling and electron microscopy studies. In addition to parasitic proteins, we also identify host proteins in these structures. The existence of extracellular vesicles explains the secretion of atypical proteins in trematodes, and the demonstration of their uptake by host cells suggests an important role for these structures in host-parasite communication, as described for other infectious agents.

Concepts: Cell, Bacteria, Cytosol, Cell membrane, Endoplasmic reticulum, Intestinal parasite, Digenea, Fasciola hepatica


Poyang Lake, the largest fresh water lake in China, is the major transmission site of Schistosoma japonicum in China. Epidemics of schistosomiasis japonica have threatened the health of residents and stunted social-economic development there.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Mathematics, Physics, Schistosomiasis, Schistosoma, Digenea, Freshwater, Schistosoma japonicum


The Southeast Asian liver fluke (Opisthorchis viverrini) chronically infects and affects tens of millions of people in regions of Asia, leading to chronic illness and, importantly, inducing malignant cancer ( = cholangiocarcinoma). In spite of this, little is known, at the molecular level, about the parasite itself, its interplay with its hosts or the mechanisms of disease and/or carcinogenesis.

Concepts: Medicine, Cancer, Medical terms, Southeast Asia, Digenea, Asia, Opisthorchis viverrini, Liver fluke


BACKGROUND: The risks of fish-borne zoonotic trematodes (FZT) to human health constitute an important problem in Vietnam. The infection of humans with these trematodes, such as small liver trematodes (Clonorchis sinensis and Opisthorchis viverrini), intestinal trematodes (Heterophyidae) and others is often thought to be linked to fish culture in areas where the habit of eating raw fish is common. Juvenile fish produced in nurseries are often heavily infected with FZT and since fishes are sold to aquaculture facilities for growth, control of FZT in these fishes should be given priority. Controlling the first intermediate host (i.e., freshwater gastropods), would be an attractive approach, if feasible. The black carp, Mylopharyngodon piceus, is a well-known predator of freshwater snails and is already used successfully for biological control of snails in various parts of the world including Vietnam. Here we report the first trials using it for biological control of intermediate host snails in nursery ponds stocked with 1-week old fry (10–12 mm in length) of Indian carp, Labeo rohita. METHODS: Semi-field and field experiments were set up to test the effect of black carp on snail populations. In the semi-field experiment a known quantity of snails was initially introduced into a pond which was subsequently stocked with black carp. In the field trial in nursery ponds, density of snails was estimated prior to a nursing cycle and at the end of the cycle (after 9 weeks). RESULTS: The results showed that black carp affect the density of snail populations in both semi-field and field conditions. The standing crop of snails in nursery ponds, however, was too high for 2 specimens to greatly reduce snail density within the relatively short nursing cycle. CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that the black carp can be used in nursery ponds in Northern Vietnam for snail control. Juvenile black carp weighing 100 - 200g should be used because this size primarily prey on intermediate hosts of FZT and other studies have shown that it does not prey on fish fry of other species. It may be necessary to use a high stocking density of black carp or to reduce snail density in the nursery ponds using other measures (e.g. mud removal) prior to stocking fry in order for the black carp to keep the density of intermediate host snails at a very low level.

Concepts: Digenea, Carp, Cyprinidae, Aquaculture, Snail, Gastropoda, Red River Delta, Black carp


Baracktrema obamai n. gen., n. sp. infects the lung of geoemydid turtles (black marsh turtle, Siebenrockiella crassicollis [type host] and southeast Asian box turtle, Cuora amboinensis) in the Malaysian states of Perak, Perlis, and Selangor. Baracktrema and Unicaecum Stunkard, 1925 are the only accepted turtle blood fluke genera having the combination of a single cecum, single testis, oviducal seminal receptacle, and uterine pouch. Baracktrema differs from Unicaecum by having a thread-like body approximately 30−50× longer than wide and post-cecal terminal genitalia. Unicaecum has a body approximately 8−12× longer than wide and terminal genitalia that are anterior to the distal end of the cecum. The new genus further differs from all other accepted turtle blood fluke genera by having a cecum that is highly convoluted for its entire length, a spindle-shaped ovary between the cirrus sac and testis, a uterine pouch that loops around the primary vitelline collecting duct, a Laurer’s canal, and a dorsal common genital pore. Phylogenetic analysis of the D1-D3 domains of the nuclear large subunit ribosomal DNA (28S) revealed, with high nodal support and as predicted by morphology, that Baracktrema and Unicaecum share a recent common ancestor and form a clade sister to the freshwater turtle blood flukes of Spirorchis, paraphyletic Spirhapalum, and Vasotrema and that, collectively, these flukes were sister to all other tetrapod blood flukes (Hapalorhynchus + Griphobilharzia plus the marine turtle blood flukes and schistosomes). Pending a forthcoming emended morphological diagnosis of the family, the clade including Spirorchis spp., paraphyletic Spirhapalum, Vasotrema, Baracktrema, and Unicaecum is a likely placeholder for “Spirorchiidae Stunkard, 1921” (type genus Spirorchis MacCallum, 1918; type species Spirorchis innominatus Ward, 1921). The present study comprises the 17th blood fluke known to infect geoemydid turtles and the first proposal of a new genus of turtle blood fluke in 21 yr.

Concepts: Schistosoma, Digenea, Turtle, Reptile, Turtles, Box turtle, Cuora, Cuora amboinensis


Echinostomiasis is a food-borne, intestinal, zoonotic, snail-mediated helminthiasis caused by digenean trematodes of the family Echinostomatidae with seven species of the genus Echinostoma infecting humans or domestic and wildlife animals. Echinostoma paraensei is a peristomic 37-collar-spined echinostome belonging to the “revolutum group”. Praziquantel (PZQ) is the drug of choice for treatment and control of human schistosomiasis and food-borne trematodiasis. In the present study we used scanning and transmission electron microscopy to further elucidate the trematocidal effect of PZQ on adult E. paraensei and confirmed that this trematode is a suitable model to study anthelmintic drugs. Hamsters infected with E. paraensei were treated with a single dose of 30mgkg(-1) of PZQ. The worms were recovered 15, 30, 90 and 180min after drug administration. There was a significant decrease in worm burden in the small intestine in the hamster-E. paraensei model at the intervals of 30, 90 and 180min after the treatment. The worms displayed damage of the peristomic collar with internalization of the spines and erosion of the tegument of the circumoral head-collar of spines. Ultrastructural analysis demonstrated an intense vacuolization of the tegument, appearance of autophagic vacuoles and swelling of the basal infolds of the tegumental syncytium. There was no change in the morphology of cells from the excretory system of adult E. paraensei, however, there was an apparent decrease of stores of glycogen particles in parenchymal cells in PZQ-treated worms. Our results demonstrated that PZQ promotes surface and ultrastructural damage of the tegument of adult E. paraensei supporting the idea that this trematode may constitute a good model to investigate drug effects mechanisms in vitro and in vivo.

Concepts: Electron, In vivo, Digenea, Praziquantel, In vitro, Trematoda, Anthelmintic, Emodepside


The anthelminthic drug tribendimidine has been approved by Chinese authorities for human use in 2004, and a first comprehensive review was published in Acta Tropica in 2005. Here, we summarise further advances made through additional clinical trials and laboratory investigations. Two phase IV trials have been conducted in the People’s Republic of China, the first one enrolling 1,292 adolescents and adults aged 15-70 years and the second one conducted with 899 children aged 4-14 years who were infected with one or multiple species of soil-transmitted helminths. Oral tribendimidine (single 400mg enteric-coated tablet given to adolescents/adults and 200mg to children) showed high cure rates against Ascaris lumbricoides (90.1-95.0%) and moderate-to-high cure rates against hookworm (82.0-88.4%). Another trial done in school-aged children using a rigorous diagnostic approach found a cure rate against hookworm of 76.5%. A single oral dose of tribendimidine showed only low cure rates against Trichuris trichiura (23.9-36.8%) confirming previous results. Tribendimidine administered to children infected with Enterobius vermicularis (two doses of 200mg each on consecutive days) resulted in a high cure rate (97.1%). Importantly, a series of randomised, exploratory trials revealed that tribendimidine shows interesting activity against the liver flukes Opisthorchis viverrini and Clonorchis sinensis, the tapeworm Taenia spp. and the threadworm Strongyloides stercoralis with respective cure rates of 70.0%, 40.0%, 53.3% and 36.4%. Pharmacokinetic studies in healthy Chinese volunteers indicated that after oral administration of tribendimidine, no parent drug was detected in plasma, but its primary metabolite, p-(1-dimethylamino ethylimino) aniline (aminoamidine, deacylated amidantel) (dADT), was found in plasma. dADT is then further metabolized to acetylated dADT (AdADT). dADT exhibits activity against several species of hookworm and C. sinensis in experimental studies, similar to that of tribendimidine. First studies elucidating the mechanism of action suggested that tribendimidine is an L-type nicotinic acetylcholine receptor agonist. Additional experimental studies revealed that the anti-parasite spectrum of tribendimidine is very broad. Indeed, to date, activity has been documented against 20 different nematode, trematode and cestode species. Taken together, tribendimidine warrants further scientific inquiry, including more comprehensive toxicity appraisals mechanism of action studies and clinical investigation as it holds promise as a broad spectrum anthelminthics.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Parasites, Digenea, Nematodes, Acetylcholine, Nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, Pinworm, Mebendazole


One of the problems of praziquantel (PZQ) is its very low aqueous solubility. Moreover, its dissolution rate is considered the limiting factor for its bioavailability. This work correlates the physical properties and the dissolution behavior of PZQ-polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) solid dispersion (SD) at the ratios of 1:1 and 3:7 with its oral bioavailability and its in vivo efficacy against Schistosoma mansoni (S. mansoni). The PZQ and PZQ-PVP SD were characterized by infrared spectroscopy, differential scanning calorimetry, scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and solubility test. Results showed a decrease in crystallinity, possible interaction between PZQ and PVP, greater increase in dissolution rate and appreciable reduction in particle size. S. mansoni-infected mice treated orally with either pure PZQ or PZQ-PVP at a single dose of 500 mg/kg showed a higher increase in AUC((0-8h)), C (max), K (a) and t (1/2e) with a significant decrease in k (el) versus the corresponding uninfected mice. Moreover, uninfected and infected mice treated with PZQ-PVP SD showed 2.3-, 1.6- and 1.3-, 1.25-fold increase, respectively, in AUC((0-8h)) and C (max), with a decrease in k (el) and increase in t (1/2e) by twofold versus the corresponding pure PZQ-treated groups. Percentage worm reduction at all administered doses (62.5, 125, 250, 500 and 1,000 mg/kg) was significantly higher (1- to 1.5-fold) in mice treated with PZQ-PVP SD (ED(50) = 40.92) versus those treated with pure PZQ (ED(50) = 99.29). In addition, a significant reduction in total tissue egg load concomitant with a significant decrease in total immature and mature eggs and an increase in dead eggs in PZQ-PVP SD-treated groups versus their corresponding pure PZQ-treated groups was recorded. Solid dispersion of PZQ with PVP could lead to a further improvement in the effectiveness of PZQ therapy especially with the appearance of some PZQ-tolerant S. mansoni isolates.

Concepts: Schistosomiasis, Schistosoma mansoni, Schistosoma, Digenea, Differential scanning calorimetry, Scanning electron microscope, Biopharmaceutics Classification System, Solvation


One approach to fight against schistosomiasis is to develop an efficient vaccine. Schistosoma mansoni tetraspanning orphan receptor (SmTOR) might be a vaccine candidate, as it is a tegument membrane protein expressed most highly in cercariae. In this study we characterized the recombinant first extracellular domain of SmTOR (rSmTORed1) as having the expected property to bind C2 of complement similarly to a smaller peptide of the same domain, and to produce specific and high-titre antibodies in BALB/c mice immunized using complete Freund’s adjuvant/incomplete Freund’s adjuvant (CFA/IFA). Immunization was protective against parasite infection, as demonstrated by a significant decrease in worm burden in immunized BALB/c mice versus the control groups over two independent trials [64 and 45% reduction for mean adult worm burden in immunized versus phosphate-bufferd saline (PBS) injected mice]. Interestingly, infection by itself did not lead to the generation of anti-rSmTORed1 antibodies, corresponding to the low frequency of specific anti-rSmTORed1 antibodies detected in the sera of patients infected with S. mansoni (2/20; 10%). These data suggest that, as opposed to the natural infection during which SmTOR induces antibodies only rarely, immunization with its smaller first extracellular domain might be more efficient.

Concepts: Immune system, Protein, Immunology, Schistosomiasis, Schistosoma mansoni, Schistosoma, Digenea, Immunologic adjuvant