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Concept: Schistosoma


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


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


Upon infection with Schistosoma, antibody responses are mounted that are largely directed against glycans. Over the last few years significant progress has been made in characterizing the antigenic properties of N-glycans of Schistosoma mansoni. Despite also being abundantly expressed by schistosomes, much less is understood about O-glycans and antibody responses to these have not yet been systematically analyzed. Antibody binding to schistosome glycans can be analyzed efficiently and quantitatively using glycan microarrays, but O-glycan array construction and exploration is lagging behind because no universal O-glycanase is available, and release of O-glycans has been dependent on chemical methods. Recently, a modified hydrazinolysis method has been developed that allows the release of O-glycans with free reducing termini and limited degradation, and we applied this method to obtain O-glycans from different S. mansoni life stages. Two-dimensional HPLC separation of 2-aminobenzoic acid-labeled O-glycans generated 362 O-glycan-containing fractions that were printed on an epoxide-modified glass slide, thereby generating the first shotgun O-glycan microarray containing naturally occurring schistosome O-glycans. Monoclonal antibodies and mass spectrometry showed that the O-glycan microarray contains well-known antigenic glycan motifs as well as numerous other, potentially novel, antibody targets. Incubations of the microarrays with sera from Schistosoma-infected humans showed substantial antibody responses to O-glycans in addition to those observed to the previously investigated N- and glycosphingolipid glycans. This underlines the importance of the inclusion of these often schistosome-specific O-glycans in glycan antigen studies and indicates that O-glycans contain novel antigenic motifs that have potential for use in diagnostic methods and studies aiming at the discovery of vaccine targets.

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, Schistosomiasis, Schistosoma mansoni, Schistosoma, Digenea, Antigen, Strigeidida


Symptomatic acute schistosomiasis mansoni is a systemic hypersensitivity reaction against the migrating schistosomula and mature eggs after a primary infection. The mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of acute schistosomiasis are not fully elucidated. Osteopontin has been implicated in granulomatous reactions and in acute hepatic injury. Our aims were to evaluate if osteopontin plays a role in acute Schistosoma mansoni infection in both human and experimentally infected mice and if circulating OPN levels could be a novel biomarker of this infection.

Concepts: Immune system, Schistosomiasis, Schistosoma mansoni, Schistosoma, Digenea, Strigeidida, Oxamniquine


Intestinal schistosomiasis due to Schistosoma mansoni was first reported in Oman in 1979. We describe the trend in parasitological and serological prevalence of human infection with S. mansoni in the endemic area over the period 1982-2014, and the compliance of data generated by the national monitoring and evaluation system with schistosomiasis elimination criteria set by the Ministry of Health of Oman.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Schistosomiasis, Schistosoma mansoni, Schistosoma, Digenea, Strigeidida, Oxamniquine


The antischistosomal pro-drug oxamniquine is activated by a sulfotransferase (SULT) in the human parasite Schistosoma mansoni Of the three main human blood fluke species, only S. mansoni is sensitive to oxamniquine therapy despite the presence of SULT orthologs in S. haematobium and S. japonicum The reason for this species-specific drug action has remained a mystery for decades. Here we present the crystal structures of S. haematobium and S. japonicum SULTs, including S. haematobium SULT in complex with oxamniquine. Our finding that all three enzymes show activity toward oxamniquine in vitro reveals differences in catalytic efficiency that implicate kinetics as the determinant for species-specific toxicity. These results support the initiative for designing oxamniquine derivatives to treat infection caused by all species of blood fluke to combat emerging resistance to current therapy.

Concepts: Parasites, Schistosomiasis, Schistosoma mansoni, Schistosoma, Digenea, Schistosoma haematobium, Schistosoma japonicum, Strigeidida


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


Targeting the cellular Ca(2+) channels and pumps that underpin parasite Ca(2+) homeostasis may realize novel antihelmintic agents. Indeed, the antischistosomal drug praziquantel (PZQ) is a key clinical agent that has been proposed to work in this manner. Heterologous expression data has implicated an action of PZQ on voltage-operated Ca(2+) channels, although the relevant in vivo target of this drug has remained undefined over three decades of clinical use. The purpose of this review is to bring new perspective to this issue by discussing the potential utility of free-living planarian flatworms for providing new insight into the mechanism of PZQ action. First, we discuss in vivo functional genetic data from the planarian system that broadly supports the molecular data collected in heterologous systems and the ‘Ca(2+) hypothesis’ of PZQ action. On the basis of these similarities we highlight our current knowledge of platyhelminth voltage operated Ca(2+) channels, their unique molecular pharmacology and the downstream functional PZQ interactome engaged by dysregulation of Ca(2+) influx that has potential to yield novel antischistosomal targets. Overall the broad dataset underscore a common theme of PZQ-evoked disruptions of Ca(2+) homeostasis in trematodes, cestodes and turbellarians, and showcase the utility of the planarian model for deriving insight into drug action and targets in parasitic flatworms.

Concepts: Schistosomiasis, Schistosoma, Praziquantel, Target Corporation, Flatworm, Anthelmintic, Platyhelminthes, Planarian


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