Schistosoma mansoni cercariae experience influx of macromolecules during skin penetration

Parasitology
J A ThornhillJ R Kusel

Abstract

We have observed that when cercariae penetrate the skin of mice, there is influx into their tissues of Lucifer Yellow and certain labelled molecules of up to 20 kDa molecular weight. This observation was made using a variety of fluorescent membrane-impermeant compounds injected into the skin before the application of cercariae. This unexpected phenomenon was investigated further by transforming cercariae in vitro in the presence of the membrane-impermeant compounds and examining the distribution by microscopy. In schistosomula derived from this procedure, the nephridiopore and surface membrane were labelled while the pre- and post-acetabular glands were not labelled. The region associated with the oesophagus within the pharyngeal muscle clearly contained the fluorescent molecules, as did the region adjacent to the excretory tubules and the germinal mass. We used cercariae stained with carmine to aid identification of regions labelled with Lucifer Yellow. Although the mechanism of this influx is unclear, the observation is significant. From it, we can suggest an hypothesis that, during skin penetration, exposure of internal tissues of the parasite to external macromolecules represents a novel host-parasite interface.

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