Concept: Intestinal parasite
Cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) is a major public health problem in Libya. The objective of this study was to investigate, for the first time, epidemiological features of CL outbreaks in Libya including molecular identification of parasites, the geographical distribution of cases and possible scenarios of parasite transmission.
The interactions between intestinal microbiota, immune system, and pathogens describe the human gut as a complex ecosystem, where all components play a relevant role in modulating each other and in the maintenance of homeostasis. The balance among the gut microbiota and the human body appear to be crucial for health maintenance. Intestinal parasites, both protozoans and helminths, interact with the microbial community modifying the balance between host and commensal microbiota. On the other hand, gut microbiota represents a relevant factor that may strongly interfere with the pathophysiology of the infections. In addition to the function that gut commensal microbiota may have in the processes that determine the survival and the outcome of many parasitic infections, including the production of nutritive macromolecules, also probiotics can play an important role in reducing the pathogenicity of many parasites. On these bases, there is a growing interest in explaining the rationale on the possible interactions between the microbiota, immune response, inflammatory processes, and intestinal parasites.
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.
BACKGROUND: In the first part of this study, we investigated the prevalence and associated key factors of soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infections among Orang Asli children in rural Malaysia; an alarming high prevalence and five key factors significantly associated with infections were reported. Part 2 of this study aims to evaluate the knowledge, attitude and practices (KAP) on STH infections among Orang Asli in Peninsular Malaysia. METHODS: A cross-sectional study was carried out among 215 households from 13 villages in Lipis district, Pahang, Malaysia. Demographic and socioeconomic information of the participants and their KAP on STH were collected by using a pre-tested questionnaire. RESULTS: Overall, 61.4% of the participants had prior knowledge about intestinal helminths with a lack of knowledge on the transmission (28.8%), signs and symptoms (29.3%) as well as the prevention (16.3%). Half of the respondents considered STH as harmful, while their practices to prevent infections were still inadequate. Significant associations between the KAP and age, gender, educational and employment status, family size, and household monthly income were reported. Moreover, significantly lower prevalence of STH infections was reported among children of respondents who wear shoes/slippers when outside the house (72.8%; 95% CI= 62.6, 80.5 vs 87.0%; 95% CI= 81.4, 91.1), wash their hands before eating (32.4%; 95% CI= 24.3, 42.2 vs 51.4%; 95% CI= 44.7, 60.1), and wash their hands after defecation (47.8%; 95% CI= 35.7, 57.1 vs 69.2%; 95% CI= 63.7, 78.7) as compared to their counterparts. Multiple logistic regression analysis indicated that the educational level of the respondents was the most important factor significantly associated with the KAP on STH among this population. CONCLUSION: This study reveals inadequate knowledge, attitude and practices on STH infections among Orang Asli in rural Malaysia. Hence, there is a great need for a proper health education programme and community mobilisation to enhance prevention and instil better knowledge on STH transmission and prevention. This is crucial for an effective and sustainable STH control programme to save the lives and future of the most vulnerable children in rural Malaysia.
Infection with intestinal helminths results in immunological changes that influence co-infections, and might influence fecundity by inducing immunological states affecting conception and pregnancy. We investigated associations between intestinal helminths and fertility in women, using 9 years of longitudinal data from 986 Bolivian forager-horticulturalists, experiencing natural fertility and 70% helminth prevalence. We found that different species of helminth are associated with contrasting effects on fecundity. Infection with roundworm (Ascaris lumbricoides) is associated with earlier first births and shortened interbirth intervals, whereas infection with hookworm is associated with delayed first pregnancy and extended interbirth intervals. Thus, helminths may have important effects on human fertility that reflect physiological and immunological consequences of infection.
Intestinal parasitic infections are highly endemic among school-aged children in resource-limited settings. To lower their impact, preventive measures should be implemented that are sustainable with available resources. The aim of this study was to assess the impact of handwashing with soap and nail clipping on the prevention of intestinal parasite reinfections.
Albendazole is an anthelmintic drug widely used in the treatment of neurocysticercosis (NCC), an infection of the brain with Taenia solium cysts. However, drug levels of its active metabolite, albendazole sulfoxide (ABZSO), are erratic, likely resulting in decreased efficacy and suboptimal cure rates in NCC. Racemic albendazole sulfoxide is composed of (ABZSO (+)-®- and (-)-(S)- enantiomers that have been shown to differ in pharmacokinetics and activity against other helminths. The antiparasitic activities of racemic ABZSO and its (+)-®- and (-)-(S)- enantiomers were evaluated in vitro against T. solium cysts. Parasites were collected from naturally infected pigs, cultured and exposed to the racemic mixture or to each enantiomer (range 10 to 500 ng/ml) or to praziquantel as a reference drug. The activity of each compound on cysts was assayed by measuring ability to evaginate and inhibition of alkaline phosphatase (AP) and parasite antigen release. (+)-®-ABZSO was significantly more active than (-)-(S)-ABZSO in suppressing the release of AP and antigen into the supernatant in a dose- and time- dependent manner, indicating that most of the activity of ABZSO resides in the (+)-®-enantiomer. Use of this enantiomer alone may lead increased efficacy and/or less toxicity compared to albendazole.
Modern hygienic lifestyles are associated with the emergence of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) which now afflicts millions of people in highly-developed countries. Meticulous hygiene interrupts conduits of transmission required for ubiquitous exposure to parasitic worms (helminths). We proposed that loss of exposure to helminths permits development of IBD. Early clinical trials suggested that exposure to helminths such as Trichuris suis or Necator americanus can improve IBD. Over the last several years, processes to “medicinalize"T. suis have been developed and use of this helminth is now being studied in large multi-center clinical trials. Concurrently, we and others have identified some of the immune regulatory mechanisms elicited by helminth exposure that suppress inappropriate intestinal inflammation. These efforts could soon result in new therapies for patients with IBD.
The authors report the results of parasitological analyses of stool samples in N'Djamena (Chad) since 1963 and in Garoua (North Cameroon) since 1990. The number of positive stool examinations has fallen, with a significant decline in helminthiases, although the level of protozoan infections has remained essentially the same.
Costs of parasitism are predicted to be higher with greater parasite intensities and higher inter-parasite competition (diversity). We tested whether greater helminth intensities and diversity were associated with poorer body composition (whole-body fat, protein, mineral and true body mass) in lesser snow geese, Chen caerulescens caerulescens. As part of a larger study on nutritional ecology, 828 wintering or migrating geese were shot between January and May 1983 in 27 different date-locations (samples) during their northward migration through mid-continental North America. A large proportion of overall variation in body composition and parasite communities was among samples, so we analyzed data within each of the 27 samples, controlling for structural body size (the first principal component of 10 body size measurements), sex and the age of geese. There was no compelling evidence that cestodes, trematodes or helminth diversity were associated with variation in body composition but nematodes had several negative associations with fat reserves. However, negative associations between fat reserves and nematodes occurred most often in geese collected between March and May when nematode prevalences and intensities were relatively low. This suggests several possibilities: that the most common nematodes (Heterakis dispar and Trichostrongylus tenuis) were more virulent at this time, that infected individuals had been chronically infected and suffered cumulative nutrient deficits that lasted until late in the spring migration, or that geese became more vulnerable to the effects of parasites at this time of year, possibly because they redirected resources away from immunity toward fat storage in preparation for reproduction.