For the last 10 years, the southern part of Belgium has been recognized as a low-risk area of endemicity for alveolar echinococcosis. This infection, caused by Echinococcus multilocularis, usually induces a severe liver condition and can sometimes spread to other organs. However, alveolar echinococcosis involving bones has been described only very rarely. Here, a fatal case of spondylodiscitis due to E. multilocularis contracted in southern Belgium is reported.
Alveolar echinococcosis (AE) in humans is a parasitic disease characterized by severe damage to the liver and occasionally other organs. AE is caused by infection with the metacestode (larval) stage of the fox tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis, usually infecting small rodents as natural intermediate hosts. Conventionally, human AE is chemotherapeutically treated with mebendazole or albendazole. There is, however still the need for improved chemotherapeutical options. Primary in vivo studies on drugs of interest are commonly performed in small laboratory animals such as mice and Mongolian jirds, and in most cases, a secondary infection model is used, whereby E. multilocularis metacestodes are directly injected into the peritoneal cavity or into the liver. Disadvantages of this methodological approach include risk of injury to organs during the inoculation and, most notably, a limitation in the macroscopic (visible) assessment of treatment efficacy. Thus, in order to monitor the efficacy of chemotherapeutical treatment, animals have to be euthanized and the parasite tissue dissected. In the present study, mice were infected with E. multilocularis metacestodes through the subcutaneous route and were then subjected to chemotherapy employing albendazole. Serological responses to infection were comparatively assessed in mice infected by the conventional intraperitoneal route. We demonstrate that the subcutaneous infection model for secondary AE facilitates the assessment of the progress of infection and drug treatment in the live animal.
Alveolar echinococcosis is a disease which affects humans and inflicts severe damage to the liver and other organs. It is caused by a parasite whose definitive host is the fox. Despite being a relatively rare disease, an increasing number of new cases has been reported in central and eastern European countries more recently. The current therapy in human AE patients consists of benzimidazoles. The treatment has to be taken on a daily basis for very long periods of time, or even lifelong. New options are currently being searched for, mainly based on compounds that show efficacy in experimental animal infection models. The infection is commonly done by injecting parasites directly into the peritoneal cavity of the animals, with risk of damage to the surrounding organs. The efficacy of applied treatments can only be evaluated at the end of the studies by dissection of the animals. In this study we show that the subcutaneous infection model can be applied for drug treatment trials and enables the direct monitoring of treatment effects during the entire study period.
An adult dog that lived in central British Columbia was examined because of a history of lethargy and vomiting. Histology, immunohistochemistry, and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) examination of a hepatic mass confirmed the presence of an alveolar hydatid cyst, the first description of Echinococcus multilocularis in British Columbia. We provide recommendations for case management and remind practitioners in endemic areas of western Canada that dogs can serve as definitive and, rarely, intermediate hosts for E. multilocularis.
Echinococcus granulosus is characterized by high intra-specific variability (genotypes G1–G10) and according to the new molecular phylogeny of the genus Echinococcus, the E. granulosus complex has been divided into E. granulosus sensu stricto (G1–G3), E. equinus (G4), E. ortleppi (G5), and E. canadensis (G6–G10). The molecular characterization of E. granulosus isolates is fundamental to understand the spatio-temporal epidemiology of this complex in many endemic areas with the simultaneous occurrence of different Echinococcus species and genotypes. To simplify the genotyping of the E. granulosus complex we developed a single-tube multiplex PCR (mPCR) allowing three levels of discrimination: (i) Echinococcus genus, (ii) E. granulosus complex in common, and (iii) the specific genotype within the E. granulosus complex. The methodology was established with known DNA samples of the different strains/genotypes, confirmed on 42 already genotyped samples (Spain: 22 and Bulgaria: 20) and then successfully applied on 153 unknown samples (Tunisia: 114, Algeria: 26 and Argentina: 13). The sensitivity threshold of the mPCR was found to be 5 ng Echinoccoccus DNA in a mixture of up to 1 µg of foreign DNA and the specificity was 100% when template DNA from closely related members of the genus Taenia was used. Additionally to DNA samples, the mPCR can be carried out directly on boiled hydatid fluid or on alkaline-lysed frozen or fixed protoscoleces, thus avoiding classical DNA extractions. However, when using Echinococcus eggs obtained from fecal samples of infected dogs, the sensitivity of the mPCR was low (<40%). Thus, except for copro analysis, the mPCR described here has a high potential for a worldwide application in large-scale molecular epidemiological studies on the Echinococcus genus.
The dog tapeworm Echinococcus granulosus (E. granulosus) is a cosmopolitan parasite. The adult worms reside in the small intestine of their definitive hosts (dogs). Infective eggs are shed with the feces into the environment and are orally ingested by intermediate hosts where they develop into the metacestode (larval) stage, causing cystic echinococcosis (CE) in humans and livestock. Ten intraspecific genotypes of E. granulosus (G1 to G10) have been reported from different intermediate host species. Based on the recently established molecular phylogeny, E. granulosus is now considered a complex consisting of four species: E. granulosus sensu stricto (G1/G2/G3), E. equinus (G4), E. ortleppi (G5) and E. canadensis (G6–G10). Simple and highly discriminative molecular epidemiological approaches are needed to explore dynamics, life cycle patterns, and the pathogenicity of the members of this complex. We here introduce a one-step multiplex PCR (mPCR) protocol for the genotyping and discrimination of the different members of the E. granulosus complex, allowing three levels of discrimination: (i) Echinococcus genus, (ii) E. granulosus complex, and (iii) genetic variants within the E. granulosus complex. The relatively complicated task of E. granulosus complex speciation and genotyping is clearly simplified by mPCR, and this technique therefore represents a useful tool for routine practice.
Echinococcus; Echinococcus multilocularis; alveolar hydatid cyst; zoonoses; European strain; North America; Canada; parasites; cestodes; dogs; canine; canid
Production of native antigens for serodiagnosis of helminthic infections is laborious and hampered by batch-to-batch variation. For serodiagnosis of echinococcosis, especially cystic disease, most screening tests rely on crude or purified Echinococcus granulosus hydatid cyst fluid. To resolve limitations associated with native antigens in serological tests, the use of standardized and highly pure antigens produced by chemical synthesis offers considerable advantages, provided appropriate diagnostic sensitivity and specificity is achieved.
Making use of the growing collection of genomic and proteomic data, we applied a set of bioinformatic selection criteria to a collection of protein sequences including conceptually translated nucleotide sequence data of two related tapeworms, Echinococcus multilocularis and Echinococcus granulosus. Our approach targeted alpha-helical coiled-coils and intrinsically unstructured regions of parasite proteins potentially exposed to the host immune system. From 6 proteins of E. multilocularis and 5 proteins of E. granulosus, 45 peptides between 24 and 30 amino acids in length were designed. These peptides were chemically synthesized, spotted on microarrays and screened for reactivity with sera from infected humans. Peptides reacting above the cut-off were validated in enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA). Peptides identified failed to differentiate between E. multilocularis and E. granulosus infection. The peptide performing best reached 57% sensitivity and 94% specificity. This candidate derived from Echinococcus multilocularis antigen B8/1 and showed strong reactivity to sera from patients infected either with E. multilocularis or E. granulosus.
This study provides proof of principle for the discovery of diagnostically relevant peptides by bioinformatic selection complemented with screening on a high-throughput microarray platform. Our data showed that a single peptide cannot provide sufficient diagnostic sensitivity whereas pooling several peptide antigens improved sensitivity; thus combinations of several peptides may lead the way to new diagnostic tests that replace, or at least complement conventional immunodiagnosis of echinococcosis. Our strategy could prove useful for diagnostic developments in other pathogens.
Crude or purified, somatic or metabolic extracts of native antigens are routinely used for the serodiagnosis of human helminthic infections. These antigens are often cross-reactive, i.e., recognized by sera from patients infected with heterologous helminth species. To overcome limitations in antigen production, test sensitivity and specificity, chemically synthesized peptides offer a pure and standardized alternative, provided they yield acceptable operative characteristics. Ongoing genome and proteome work create new resources for the identification of antigens. Making use of the growing amount of genomic and proteomic data available in public databases, we tested a bioinformatic procedure for the selection of potentially antigenic peptides from a collection of protein sequences including conceptually translated nucleotide sequence data of Echinococcus multilocularis and E. granulosus (Plathyhelminthes, Cestoda). The in silico selection was combined with high-throughput screening of peptides on microarray and systematic validation of reactive candidates in enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Our study proved the applicability of this approach for selection of peptide antigens with good diagnostic characteristics. Our results suggested the pooling of several peptides to reach a high level of sensitivity required for reliable immunodiagnosis.
Alveolar echinococcosis (AE) is a severe chronic hepatic parasitic disease currently emerging in central and eastern Europe. Untreated AE presents a high mortality (>90%) due to a severe hepatic destruction as a result of parasitic metacestode proliferation which behaves like a malignant tumor. Despite this severe course and outcome of disease, the genetic program that regulates the host response leading to organ damage as a consequence of hepatic alveolar echinococcosis is largely unknown.
We used a mouse model of AE to assess gene expression profiles in the liver after establishment of a chronic disease status as a result of a primary peroral infection with eggs of the fox tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis. Among 38 genes differentially regulated (false discovery rate adjusted p≤0.05), 35 genes were assigned to the functional gene ontology group , while 3 associated with the functional group . Upregulated genes associated with could be clustered into functional subgroups including , , , and . Two downregulated genes related to and , respectively. The genes either associated with an or an pathway. From the overexpressed genes, 18 genes were subsequently processed with a Custom Array microfluidic card system in order to assess respective expression status at the mRNA level relative to 5 reference genes (Gapdh, Est1, Rlp3, Mdh-1, Rpl37) selected upon a constitutive and stable expression level. The results generated by the two independent tools used for the assessment of gene expression, i.e., microarray and microfluidic card system, exhibited a high level of congruency (Spearman correlation rho = 0.81, p = 7.87e-5) and thus validated the applied methods.
Based on this set of biomarkers, new diagnostic targets have been made available to predict disease status and progression. These biomarkers may also offer new targets for immuno-therapeutic intervention.
Host-parasite interactions in the E. multilocularis-intermediate host model depend on a subtle balance between cellular immunity, which is responsible for host's resistance towards the metacestode, the larval stage of the parasite, and tolerance induction and maintenance. The pathological features of alveolar echinococcosis. the disease caused by E. multilocularis, are related both to parasitic growth and to host's immune response, leading to fibrosis and necrosis, The disease spectrum is clearly dependent on the genetic background of the host as well as on acquired disturbances of Th1-related immunity. The laminated layer of the metacestode, and especially its carbohydrate components, plays a major role in tolerance induction. Th2-type and anti-inflammatory cytokines, IL-10 and TGF-β, as well as nitric oxide, are involved in the maintenance of tolerance and partial inhibition of cytotoxic mechanisms. Results of studies in the experimental mouse model and in patients suggest that immune modulation with cytokines, such as interferon-α, or with specific antigens could be used in the future to treat patients with alveolar echinococcosis and/or to prevent this very severe parasitic disease.
Summary: Throughout much of the world, Trichinella spp. are found to be the causative agents of human trichinellosis, a disease that not only is a public health hazard by affecting human patients but also represents an economic problem in porcine animal production and food safety. Due to the predominantly zoonotic importance of infection, the main efforts in many countries have focused on the control of Trichinella or the elimination of Trichinella from the food chain. The most important source of human infection worldwide is the domestic pig, but, e.g., in Europe, meats of horses and wild boars have played a significant role during outbreaks within the past 3 decades. Infection of humans occurs with the ingestion of Trichinella larvae that are encysted in muscle tissue of domestic or wild animal meat. Early clinical diagnosis of trichinellosis is rather difficult because pathognomonic signs or symptoms are lacking. Subsequent chronic forms of the disease are not easy to diagnose, irrespective of parameters including clinical findings, laboratory findings (nonspecific laboratory parameters such as eosinophilia, muscle enzymes, and serology), and epidemiological investigations. New regulations laying down rules for official controls for Trichinella in meat in order to improve food safety for consumers have recently been released in Europe. The evidence that the disease can be monitored and to some extent controlled with a rigorous reporting and testing system in place should be motivation to expand appropriate programs worldwide.
Alveolar echinococcosis (AE) is a severe helminth disease affecting humans, which is caused by the fox tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis. AE represents a serious public health issue in larger regions of China, Siberia, and other regions in Asia. In Europe, a significant increase in prevalence since the 1990s is not only affecting the historically documented endemic area north of the Alps but more recently also neighbouring regions previously not known to be endemic. The genetic diversity of the parasite population and respective distribution in Europe have now been investigated in view of generating a fine-tuned map of parasite variants occurring in Europe. This approach may serve as a model to study the parasite at a worldwide level.
The genetic diversity of E. multilocularis was assessed based upon the tandemly repeated microsatellite marker EmsB in association with matching fox host geographical positions. Our study demonstrated a higher genetic diversity in the endemic areas north of the Alps when compared to other areas.
The study of the spatial distribution of E. multilocularis in Europe, based on 32 genetic clusters, suggests that Europe can be considered as a unique global focus of E. multilocularis, which can be schematically drawn as a central core located in Switzerland and Jura Swabe flanked by neighbouring regions where the parasite exhibits a lower genetic diversity. The transmission of the parasite into peripheral regions is governed by a “mainland–island” system. Moreover, the presence of similar genetic profiles in both zones indicated a founder event.
Echinococcus multilocularis is a tapeworm of the red fox, which represents a considerable health threat to respectively infected humans. Main endemic areas are located in China, Siberia, and central Europe. Alarmed by an emerging or reemerging situation in Europe, the question of how the parasite gets spatially and temporally spread and transmitted becomes essential to prepare appropriate control programs. The question was tackled by using genetic data on a large sample size of E. multilocularis adult stage tapeworms, combined with geographical site location data input. The historically documented endemic area, represented by the northern Alpine arch, was shown to harbour the highest genetic richness and diversity, as compared to surrounding areas in northern and eastern Europe. The spatial and temporal spread of different E. multilocularis genotypes in Europe seems to be ruled by a founder event, linked to exportation of parasites from the central core to newly identified (western and eastern) areas or subregions, where these parasites could subsequently disseminate under geographical separation from the original foci.
Echinococcosis is a worldwide zoonotic parasitic disease of humans and various herbivorous domestic animals (intermediate hosts) transmitted by the contact with wild and domestic carnivores (definitive hosts), mainly foxes and dogs. Recently, a vaccine was developed showing high levels of protection against one parasite haplotype (G1) of Echinococcus granulosus, and its potential efficacy against distinct parasite variants or species is still unclear. Interestingly, the EG95 vaccine antigen is a secreted glycosylphosphatydilinositol (GPI)-anchored protein containing a fibronectin type III domain, which is ubiquitous in modular proteins involved in cell adhesion. EG95 is highly expressed in oncospheres, the parasite life cycle stage which actively invades the intermediate hosts. After amplifying and sequencing the complete CDS of 57 Echinococcus isolates belonging to 7 distinct species, we uncovered a large amount of genetic variability, which may influence protein folding. Two positively selected sites are outside the vaccine epitopes, but are predicted to alter protein conformation. Moreover, phylogenetic analyses indicate that EG95 isoform evolution is convergent with regard to the number of beta-sheets and alpha-helices. We conclude that having a variety of EG95 isoforms is adaptive for Echinococcus parasites, in terms of their ability to invade different hosts, and we propose that a mixture of isoforms could possibly maximize vaccine efficacy.
In vitro treatment of Echinococcus multilocularis and Echinococcus granulosus larval stages with the antimalarials dihydroartemisinin and artesunate (10 to 40 μM) exhibited promising results, while 6 weeks of in vivo treatment of mice infected with E. multilocularis metacestodes (200 mg/kg of body weight/day) had no effect. However, combination treatments of both drugs with albendazole led to a substantial but statistically not significant reduction in parasite weight compared to results with albendazole alone.
Echinococcus granulosus protoscolex soluble somatic antigens (PSSAs) were assessed for their prognostic value in the serological follow-up of young patients treated for cystic echinococcosis (CE), compared to conventional hydatid fluid (HF) antigen. Based on different clinical courses and outcome of infection, as well as imaging findings, patients were retrospectively classified into two different groups including either cured CE (CCE; i.e., absence of active cysts or presence of inactive cysts, respectively) and noncured CE (NCCE) patients still presenting active cysts at the end of an up to 5-year follow-up period. An immunoglobulin G (IgG)-PSSA enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) showed a gradual decrease in antibody levels in CCE cases, reaching seronegativity in 20% of the cases at least within 5 years postsurgery. In comparison, the conventional IgG-HF ELISA showed a significantly lower progressive decrease in antibody levels, serology becoming negative in only 15% of CCE patients at the endpoint of the follow-up period. Serological analysis of PSSA by immunoblotting yielded an interesting immunoreactive double band of 27 and 28 kDa that, in 15 (75%) of 20 CCE cases, exhibited a rapid decrease and subsequent disappearance of respective antibody reactivities within 3 years postsurgery. Conversely, anti-27- and -28-kDa antibody reactivity strongly persisted until the endpoint of the follow-up period in all of the five NCCE patients. Further analysis of the 27- and 28-kDa doublet by using affinity-purified antibodies showed that the double band was not detectable in HF. Furthermore, a predominantly IgG4 subclass-restricted humoral immune response against the 27- and 28-kDa antigens was demonstrated in seroreactive CE patients. Overall, an anti-27- and -28-kDa response appeared to correlate with cyst activity. In conclusion, PSSA represents a useful candidate to carry out a serologic follow-up of CE subsequent to treatment and deserves further respective evaluation for other age groups of CE patients.
An increase in fox population has led to an increase in incidence of human alveolar echinococcosis.
We analyzed databases spanning 50 years, which included retrospective alveolar echinococcosis (AE) case-finding studies and databases of the 3 major centers for treatment of AE in Switzerland. A total of 494 cases were recorded. Annual incidence of AE per 100,000 population increased from 0.12– 0.15 during 1956–1992 and a mean of 0.10 during 1993–2000 to a mean of 0.26 during 2001–2005. Because the clinical stage of the disease did not change between observation periods, this increase cannot be explained by improved diagnosis. Swiss hunting statistics suggested that the fox population increased 4-fold from 1980 through 1995 and has persisted at these higher levels. Because the period between infection and development of clinical disease is long, the increase in the fox population and high Echinococcus multilocularis prevalence rates in foxes in rural and urban areas may have resulted in an emerging epidemic of AE 10–15 years later.
Alveolar echinococcosis; Echinococcus multilocularis; epidemiology; fox (Vulpes vulpes); zoonosis; incidence; Switzerland; research
We developed a real-time PCR which allowed the highly sensitive detection of Naegleria fowleri in histological brain tissue sections from experimentally infected mice. This genus-specific small-subunit (18S) rRNA gene-based PCR can complement conventional (immuno-) histology for the diagnosis of primary amoebic meningoencephalitis in paraffin-embedded brain necropsy specimens that had been fixed in formalin buffered with phosphate-buffered saline.
Echinococcus multilocularis and Echinococcus granulosus metacestode infections in humans cause alveolar echinococcosis and cystic echinococcosis, respectively, in which metacestode development in visceral organs often results in particular organ failure. Further, cystic hydatidosis in farm animals causes severe economic losses. Although benzimidazole derivatives such as mebendazole and albendazole are being used as therapeutic agents, there is often no complete recovery after treatment. Hence, in searching for novel treatment options, we examined the in vitro efficacies of a number of isoflavones against Echinococcus metacestodes and protoscoleces. The most prominent isoflavone, genistein, exhibits significant metacestodicidal activity in vitro. However, genistein binds to the estrogen receptor and can thus induce estrogenic effects, which is a major concern during long-term chemotherapy. We have therefore investigated the activities of a number of synthetic genistein derivatives carrying a modified estrogen receptor binding site. One of these, Rm6423, induced dramatic breakdown of the structural integrity of the metacestode germinal layer of both species within 5 to 7 days of in vitro treatment. Further, examination of the culture medium revealed increased leakage of parasite proteins into the medium during treatment, but zymography demonstrated a decrease in the activity of metalloproteases. Moreover, two of the genistein derivatives, Rm6423 and Rm6426, induced considerable damage in E. granulosus protoscoleces, rendering them nonviable. These findings demonstrate that synthetic isoflavones exhibit distinct in vitro effects on Echinococcus metacestodes and protoscoleces, which could potentially be exploited further for the development of novel chemotherapeutical tools against larval-stage Echinococcus infection.
Echinococcus multilocularis metacestodes are fluid-filled, vesicle-like organisms, which are characterized by continuous asexual proliferation via external budding of daughter vesicles, predominantly in the livers of infected individuals. Tumor-like growth eventually leads to the disease alveolar echinococcosis (AE). We employed the monoclonal antibody (MAb) E492/G1, previously shown to be directed against a carbohydrate-rich, immunomodulatory fraction of Echinococcus granulosus, to characterize potentially related components in E. multilocularis. Immunofluorescence studies demonstrated that MAb E492/G1-reactive epitopes were found predominantly on the laminated layer and in the periphery of developing brood capsules. The respective molecules were continuously released into the exterior medium and were also found in the parasite vesicle fluid. The MAb E492/G1-reactive fraction in E. multilocularis, named Em492 antigen, was isolated by immunoaffinity chromatography. Em492 antigen had a protein/carbohydrate ratio of 0.25, reacted with a series of lectins, and is related to the laminated layer-associated Em2(G11) antigen. The epitope recognized by MAb E492/G1 was sensitive to sodium periodate but was not affected by protease treatment. Anti-Em492 immunoglobulin G1 (IgG1) and IgG2 and, at lower levels, IgG3 were found in sera of mice suffering from experimentally induced secondary, but not primary, AE. However, with regard to cellular immunity, a suppressive effect on concanavalin A- or crude parasite extract-induced splenocyte proliferation in these mice was observed upon addition of Em492 antigen, but trypan blue exclusion tests and transmission electron microscopy failed to reveal any cytotoxic effect in Em492 antigen-treated spleen cells. This indicated that Em492 antigen could be modulating the periparasitic cellular environment during E. multilocularis infection through as yet unidentified mechanisms and could be one of the factors contributing to immunosuppressive events that occur at the host-parasite interface.
To further evaluate recombinant Em18 antigen (rEm18) for immunodiagnosis of human alveolar echinococcosis, 208 serum samples were examined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). To comparatively assess the results of rEm18-ELISA, ELISA and immunoblot analysis with two affinity-purified native antigens were also performed with 45 selected serum samples. The results indicate that rEm18 is highly useful for serodiagnosis.
In the present study, interleukin-6 (IL-6)-deficient mice were infected with Giardia lamblia clone GS/M-83-H7. Murine IL-6 deficiency did not affect the synthesis of parasite-specific intestinal immunoglobulin A. However, in contrast to wild-type mice, IL-6-deficient animals were not able to control the acute phase of parasite infection. Reverse transcription-PCR-based quantitation of cytokine mRNA levels in peripheral lymph node cells exhibited a short-term up-regulation of IL-4 expression in IL-6-deficient mice that seemed to be associated with failure in controlling the parasite population. This observation suggests a further elucidation of IL-4-dependent, Th2-type regulatory processes regarding their potential to influence the course of G. lamblia infection in the experimental murine host.
When humans serve as inadvertent intermediate hosts for Echinococcus multilocularis, disease (alveolar echinococcosis [AE]) may result from the expanding parasite metacestode in visceral organs, mostly in the liver. Benzimidazole carbamate derivatives such as mebendazole and albendazole are used for chemotherapeutic treatment of AE. However, these treatments are, in most cases, parasitistatic rather than parasiticidal. As treatment is discontinued, a recurrence of parasite growth has been observed in many AE patients with nonradical resections. The only curative treatment for AE is radical surgical resection of the parasite tissue and support by chemotherapy. As there is a need for new treatment options for AE, the in vitro efficacy of nitazoxanide (NTZ), a broad-spectrum drug used against intestinal parasites and bacteria, was investigated. We showed that in vitro treatment of E. multilocularis metacestodes with NTZ induced high levels of alkaline phosphatase activity in the medium. Concurrently, distinct morphological and ultrastructural alterations were detected. Most significantly, two distinct types of alterations were observed as soon as after 3 h of NTZ treatment. At first, the drug induced a peripheral output of membranous vesicles from the tegumental membrane into the laminated layer. Simultaneously, germinal layer-associated undifferentiated cells produced large vacuoles filled with lipid-like and often electron-dense membranous segments. Other alterations were observed at later time points, including vacuolization of the germinal layer, accumulation of lipid droplets, and lastly, loss of microtriches and separation of the laminated and germinal layers. The pattern of damage induced by NTZ was different from the alterations earlier observed in albendazole sulfoxide-treated vesicles. The nonviability of NTZ-treated metacestodes was confirmed through bioassay, i.e., inoculation of treated and untreated parasites into mice. These experiments demonstrate the in vitro parasiticidal effect of NTZ on E. multilocularis metacestodes.
Neospora caninum is an important cause of infectious abortion and stillbirth in cattle world-wide. Infection is common and may frequently be passed from mother to calf (vertical transmission) with no signs of disease. Based on our previous observation that N. caninum-infection can be efficiently controlled with Toltrazuril-sulfone (Ponazuril) in experimentally infected mice, we addressed the question if efficacy could also be obtained in experimentally infected calves.
Material and Methods
The study included 19 calves and represents an initial explorative approach to document a basic effectiveness at first. Fifteen animals received each 2 x 108N. caninum trophozoites, half of the dose being injected intravenously and the other half subcutaneously. Efficacy of treatment was assessed using molecular detection of parasite DNA with PCR and pathological alterations by immunohistochemistry in different organs of the animals. Assessment included also clinical, serological and pathophysiological parameters.
In those calves medicated with ponazuril (one, or six consecutive days, respectively, starting one day after infection), a complete abrogation of the parasite detectability was obtained in the brain and other organs, while 50% of non-treated calves became PCR-positive in brain and muscles. Clinically, ponazuril chemotherapy of infected calves – in comparison to non-treated infected animals – reduced symptoms (fever), but no differences were observed between treated and non-treated animals with regard to serum enzymes and metabolites. Efficacy of a six-day treament was also reflected by significantly lower anti-Neospora antibody concentrations developed after infection, when compared to non-treated animals.
Based on our findings in this initially explorative approach that indicate a basic effectiveness of ponazuril against experimental N. caninum infection in calves, we plan to follow our chemotherapeutical intervention strategy to control bovine neosporosis with a subsequent more extensive field study with naturally infected calves.
The Echinococcus multilocularis protein Em18 is one of the most promising antigens for use in serodiagnosis of alveolar echinococcosis in human patients. Here we identify an antigenic relationship between Em18 and a 65-kDa immunodominant E. multilocularis surface protein previously identified as either EM10 or EmII/3. The NH2-terminal sequence of native Em18 was determined, revealing it to be a fragment of EM10. Experiments were undertaken to investigate the effect of proteinase inhibitors on the degradation of EM10 in crude extracts of E. multilocularis protoscoleces. Em18 was found to be the product of degradation of EM10 by cysteine proteinase. A recombinant Em18 (RecEm18, derived from 349K to 508K of EM10) was successfully expressed by using Escherichia coli expression system and then evaluated for use in serodiagnosis of alveolar echinococcosis. RecEm18 was recognized by 27 (87.1%) and 28 (90.3%) of 31 serum samples from clinically and/or pathologically confirmed alveolar echinococcosis patients by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and immunoblotting, respectively. Of 33 serum samples from cystic echinococcosis patients, 1 was recorded as having a weak positive reaction to RecEm18; however, none of the serum samples which were tested from neurocysticercosis patients (n = 10) or healthy people (n = 15) showed positive reactions. RecEm18 has the potential for use in the differential serodiagnosis of alveolar echinococcosis.
Echinococcus multilocularis causes alveolar echinococcosis, one of the most lethal helminthic (accidental) infections in humans, as the life cycle predominantly includes wildlife rodents as intermediate hosts. The physical barrier between the proliferating parasitic metacestode and the host tissue is the acellular laminated layer (LL), which is characterized by its rich high-molecular-weight polysaccharide composition. Conversely to a crude protein-rich vesicular fluid antigen, a major carbohydrate antigen of the LL—the Em2(G11) antigen—did not stimulate murine T-cell proliferation in vitro. In fact, the persistent metacestode growth and antigenic stimulation induced a Th2 shift in vivo following conventional infection by intraperitoneal inoculation of 100 metacestode vesicles into C57/BL6 mice. Concurrently, the expression of Th1 cytokines (interleukin-2 and gamma interferon) remained persistently low until the late stage of chronic infection. In comparison to a recombinant proteinic II/3 antigen, the specific immunoglobulin G (IgG) response against the Em2(G11) antigen (including all IgG isotypes) maintained persistently low avidity. Furthermore, the Em2(G11) antigen induced a specific IgM and IgG response in T-cell-deficient athymic nude, TCRβ−/−, major histocompatibility complex class II (MHCII)−/−(CD4-deficient), and CD40−/− mice. The Em2(G11)-specific IgG synthesized in nude TCRβ−/− and MHCII−/− mice was predominantly of the IgG3 and IgG2a isotypes and of the IgG3 and IgG2b isotypes in CD40−/− mice. This finding suggested that in vivo, the IgG response to major carbohydrate antigen Em2(G11) of E. multilocularis could take place independently of αβ+ CD4+ T cells and in the absence of CD40-CD40 ligand interactions; thus, the Em2(G11) antigen of the acellular LL represents a T-cell-independent antigen. Functionally, the encapsulating LL, and especially its major carbohydrate antigen, Em2(G11), seems to be one of the key factors in the parasite's survival strategy and acts by modulating the host immune response by virtue of its T-cell-independent nature.
Alveolar echinococcosis (AE) is caused by the metacestode stage of the fox tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis. The disease affects the human liver and occasionally other organs and is fatal if treatment is unsuccessful. The present chemotherapy of AE is based on the administration of benzimidazole carbamate derivatives, such as mebendazole and albendazole. Albendazole treatment has been found to be ineffective in some cases, parasitostatic rather than parasiticidal, and the recurrence rate is rather high. Therefore, chemotherapy usually involves the lifelong uptake of massive doses of albendazole and new treatment options are urgently needed. In order to avoid costly and time-consuming animal experimentation, a first step in searching for novel parasiticidal compounds could be the in vitro drug screening of novel compounds by employing metacestode cultivation. However, presently used techniques (e.g., transmission electron microscopy) for determination of parasite viability involve costly equipment and time-consuming preparation of rather large amounts of parasite material. We therefore searched for a parasite marker which can be easily traced and the presence or absence of which is indicative of parasite viability. In this study we show that the increase of E. multilocularis alkaline phosphatase activity in culture supernatants during in vitro drug treatment with albendazole derivatives correlates with the progressive degeneration and destruction of the metacestode tissue. The inexpensive and rapid assay presented here will serve as an ideal tool for performing first-round in vitro tests on the efficacy of a large number of antiparasitic compounds.