International journal for parasitology [journal]
- Detection of taeniid (Taenia spp., Echinococcus spp.) eggs contaminating vegetables and fruits sold in European markets and the risk for metacestode infections in captive primates. [Journal Article]
- Int J Parasitol Parasites Wildl 2016 Dec; 5(3):249-53.
Due to frequent cases of alveolar echinococcosis (AE) in captive primates in Europe, 141 samples of food, which consisting of vegetables and fruits, were investigated for contamination with egg-DNA of taeniids. Each sample consisted of at least 40 heads of lettuce as well as various vegetables and fruits. The samples were purchased at different times of the year: either from September to November (autumn), originating from greenhouses or fields in the Basel region in the North of Switzerland, or in April and May (spring) when fruit and vegetables are sourced from throughout Europe from various wholesalers. Each sample was washed, and the washing water sieved through mesh apertures of 50 μm and 21 μm, respectively. The debris, including taeniid eggs, collected on the 21 μm sieve were investigated by a multiplex PCR-analysis followed by direct sequencing. In 17 (18%) of the 95 samples collected in autumn, taeniid-DNA was detected (Taenia hydatigena in four, Taenia ovis in three, Taenia polyacantha in two and Hydatigera (Taenia) taeniaeformis in five cases). Similarly, in 13 (28%) of the 46 samples collected during spring taeniid-DNA was detected (Echinococcus granulosus s.l. in two, Taenia crassiceps in one, T. hydatigena in two, Taenia multiceps/Taenia serialis in two, Taenia saginata in one and H. taeniaeformis in five cases). Although DNA of Echinococcus multilocularis was not found specifically in this study, the detection of other fox taeniids reveals that vegetables and fruit fed to the primates at the Zoo Basel at different times of the year and from different origin are contaminated with carnivore's faeces and therefore act as a potential source of AE infections.
- Multilocus sequence typing of Dientamoeba fragilis identified a major clone with widespread geographical distribution. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Int J Parasitol 2016 Aug 21.
The flagellated protozoan Dientamoeba fragilis is often detected in humans with gastrointestinal symptoms, but it is also commonly found in healthy subjects. As for other intestinal protozoa, the hypothesis that genetically dissimilar parasite isolates differ in their ability to cause symptoms has also been raised for D. fragilis. To date, only two D. fragilis genotypes (1 and 2) have been described, of which genotype 1 largely predominates worldwide. However, very few markers are available for genotyping studies and therefore the extent of genetic variation among isolates remains largely unknown. Here, we performed metagenomics experiments on two D. fragilis-positive stool samples, and identified a number of candidate markers based on sequence similarity to the phylogenetically related species Trichomonas vaginalis. Markers corresponding to structural genes and to genes encoding for proteases were selected for this study, and PCR experiments confirmed their belonging to the D. fragilis genome; two previously described markers (small subunit ribosomal DNA and large subunit of RNA polymerase II) were also included. Using this panel of markers, 111 isolates of human origin were genotyped, all of which, except one, belonged to genotype 1. These isolates had been collected at different times from symptomatic and asymptomatic persons of different age groups in Italy, Denmark, Brazil and Australia. By sequencing approximately 160kb from 500 PCR products, a very low level of polymorphism was observed across all the investigated loci, suggesting the existence of a major clone of D. fragilis with a widespread geographical distribution.
- Endoparasites of American marten (Martes americana): Review of the literature and parasite survey of reintroduced American marten in Michigan. [Journal Article]
- Int J Parasitol Parasites Wildl 2016 Dec; 5(3):240-8.
The American marten (Martes americana) was reintroduced to both the Upper (UP) and northern Lower Peninsula (NLP) of Michigan during the 20th century. This is the first report of endoparasites of American marten from the NLP. Faeces from live-trapped American marten were examined for the presence of parasitic ova, and blood samples were obtained for haematocrit evaluation. The most prevalent parasites were Capillaria and Alaria species. Helminth parasites reported in American marten for the first time include Eucoleus boehmi, hookworm, and Hymenolepis and Strongyloides species. This is the first report of shedding of Sarcocystis species sporocysts in an American marten and identification of 2 coccidian parasites, Cystoisospora and Eimeria species. The pathologic and zoonotic potential of each parasite species is discussed, and previous reports of endoparasites of the American marten in North America are reviewed.
- Screening of the 'Pathogen Box' identifies an approved pesticide with major anthelmintic activity against the barber's pole worm. [REVIEW, JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Int J Parasitol Drugs Drug Resist 2016 Jul 28.
There is a substantial need to develop new medicines against parasitic diseases via public-private partnerships. Based on high throughput phenotypic screens of largely protozoal pathogens and bacteria, the Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) has recently assembled an open-access 'Pathogen Box' containing 400 well-curated chemical compounds. In the present study, we tested these compounds for activity against parasitic stages of the nematode Haemonchus contortus (barber's pole worm). In an optimised, whole-organism screening assay, using exsheathed third-stage (xL3) and fourth-stage (L4) larvae, we measured the inhibition of larval motility, growth and development of H. contortus. We also studied the effect of the 'hit' compound on mitochondrial function by measuring oxygen consumption. Among the 400 Pathogen Box compounds, we identified one chemical, called tolfenpyrad (compound identification code: MMV688934) that reproducibly inhibits xL3 motility as well as L4 motility, growth and development, with IC50 values ranging between 0.02 and 3 μM. An assessment of mitochondrial function showed that xL3s treated with tolfenpyrad consumed significantly less oxygen than untreated xL3s, which was consistent with specific inhibition of complex I of the respiratory electron transport chain in arthropods. Given that tolfenpyrad was developed as a pesticide and has already been tested for absorption, distribution, excretion, biotransformation, toxicity and metabolism, it shows considerable promise for hit-to-lead optimisation and/or repurposing for use against H. contortus and other parasitic nematodes. Future work should assess its activity against hookworms and other pathogens that cause neglected tropical diseases.
- Haemosporidian parasite infections in grouse and ptarmigan: Prevalence and genetic diversity of blood parasites in resident Alaskan birds. [Journal Article]
- Int J Parasitol Parasites Wildl 2016 Dec; 5(3):229-39.
Projections related to future climate warming indicate the potential for an increase in the distribution and prevalence of blood parasites in northern regions. However, baseline data are lacking for resident avian host species in Alaska. Grouse and ptarmigan occupy a diverse range of habitat types throughout the northern hemisphere and are among the most well-known and important native game birds in North America. Information regarding the prevalence and diversity of haemosporidian parasites in tetraonid species is limited, with few recent studies and an almost complete lack of genetic data. To better understand the genetic diversity of haemosporidian parasites in Alaskan tetraonids and to determine current patterns of geographic range and host specificity, we used molecular methods to screen 459 tissue samples collected from grouse and ptarmigan species across multiple regions of Alaska for infection by Leucocytozoon, Haemoproteus, and Plasmodium blood parasites. Infections were detected in 342 individuals, with overall apparent prevalence of 53% for Leucocytozoon, 21% for Haemoproteus, and 9% for Plasmodium. Parasite prevalence varied by region, with different patterns observed between species groups (grouse versus ptarmigan). Leucocytozoon was more common in ptarmigan, whereas Haemoproteus was more common in grouse. We detected Plasmodium infections in grouse only. Analysis of haemosporidian mitochondrial DNA cytochrome b sequences revealed 23 unique parasite haplotypes, several of which were identical to lineages previously detected in other avian hosts. Phylogenetic analysis showed close relationships between haplotypes from our study and those identified in Alaskan waterfowl for Haemoproteus and Plasmodium parasites. In contrast, Leucocytozoon lineages were structured strongly by host family. Our results provide some of the first genetic data for haemosporidians in grouse and ptarmigan species, and provide an initial baseline on the prevalence and diversity of blood parasites in a group of northern host species.
- Ectoparasitism on deep-sea fishes in the western North Atlantic: In situ observations from ROV surveys. [Journal Article]
- Int J Parasitol Parasites Wildl 2016 Dec; 5(3):217-28.
A complete understanding of how parasites influence marine ecosystem functioning requires characterizing a broad range of parasite-host interactions while determining the effects of parasitism in a variety of habitats. In deep-sea fishes, the prevalence of parasitism remains poorly understood. Knowledge of ectoparasitism, in particular, is limited because collection methods often cause dislodgment of ectoparasites from their hosts. High-definition video collected during 43 remotely operated vehicle surveys (2013-2014) provided the opportunity to examine ectoparasitism on fishes across habitats (open slope, canyon, seamount, cold seep) and depths (494-4689 m) off the northeastern U.S., while providing high-resolution images and valuable observations of fish behavior. Only 9% (n = 125 individuals) of all observed fishes (25 species) were confirmed with ectoparasites, but higher percentages (∼33%) were observed for some of the most abundant fish species (e.g., Antimora rostrata). Ectoparasites included two copepod families (Lernaeopodidae, Sphyriidae) that infected four host species, two isopod families (Cymothoidae, Aegidae) that infected three host species, and one isopod family (Gnathiidae) that infected 19 host species. Hyperparasitism was also observed. As host diversity declined with depth, ectoparasite diversity declined; only gnathiids were observed at depths down to 3260 m. Thus, gnathiids appear to be the most successful group to infect a diversity of fishes across a broad depth range in the deep sea. For three dominant fishes (A. rostrata, Nezumia bairdii, Synaphobranchus spp.), the abundance and intensity of ectoparasitism peaked in different depths and habitats depending on the host species examined. Notably, gnathiid infections were most intense on A. rostrata, particularly in submarine canyons, suggesting that these habitats may increase ectoparasite infections. Although ectoparasitism is often overlooked in deep-sea benthic communities, our results demonstrate that it occurs widely across a variety of habitats, depths, and locations and is a significant component of deep-sea biodiversity.
- TRP channels in schistosomes. [REVIEW, JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Int J Parasitol Drugs Drug Resist 2016 Jul 27.
Praziquantel (PZQ) is effectively the only drug currently available for treatment and control of schistosomiasis, a disease affecting hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Many anthelmintics, likely including PZQ, target ion channels, membrane protein complexes essential for normal functioning of the neuromusculature and other tissues. Despite this fact, only a few classes of parasitic helminth ion channels have been assessed for their pharmacological properties or for their roles in parasite physiology. One such overlooked group of ion channels is the transient receptor potential (TRP) channel superfamily. TRP channels share a common core structure, but are widely diverse in their activation mechanisms and ion selectivity. They are critical to transducing sensory signals, responding to a wide range of external stimuli. They are also involved in other functions, such as regulating intracellular calcium and organellar ion homeostasis and trafficking. Here, we review current literature on parasitic helminth TRP channels, focusing on those in schistosomes. We discuss the likely roles of these channels in sensory and locomotor activity, including the possible significance of a class of TRP channels (TRPV) that is absent in schistosomes. We also focus on evidence indicating that at least one schistosome TRP channel (SmTRPA) has atypical, TRPV1-like pharmacological sensitivities that could potentially be exploited for future therapeutic targeting.
- An optimised multi-host trematode life cycle: fishery discards enhance trophic parasite transmission to scavenging birds. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Int J Parasitol 2016 Aug 1.
Overlapping distributions of hosts and parasites are critical for successful completion of multi-host parasite life cycles and even small environmental changes can impact on the parasite's presence in a host or habitat. The generalist Cardiocephaloides longicollis was used as a model for multi-host trematode life cycles in marine habitats. This parasite was studied to quantify parasite dispersion and transmission dynamics, effects of biological changes and anthropogenic impacts on life cycle completion. We compiled the largest host dataset to date, by analysing 3351 molluscs (24 species), 2108 fish (25 species) and 154 birds (17 species) and analysed the resultant data based on a number of statistical models. We uncovered extremely low host specificity at the second intermediate host level and a preference of the free-swimming larvae for predominantly demersal but also benthic fish. The accumulation of encysted larvae in the brain with increasing fish size demonstrates that parasite numbers level off in fish larger than 140mm, consistent with parasite-induced mortality at these levels. The highest infection rates were detected in host species and sizes representing the largest fraction of Mediterranean fishery discards (up to 67% of the total catch), which are frequently consumed by seabirds. Significantly higher parasite densities were found in areas with extensive fishing activity than in those with medium and low activity, and in fish from shallow lagoons than in fish from other coastal areas. For the first time, C. longicollis was also detected in farmed fish in netpens. Fishing generally drives declines in parasite abundance, however, our study suggests an enhanced transmission of generalist parasites such as C. longicollis, an effect that is further amplified by the parasite's efficient host-finding mechanisms and its alteration of fish host behaviour by larvae encysted in the brain. The anthropogenic impact on the distribution of trophically-transmitted, highly prevalent parasites likely results in a strong effect on food web structure, thus making C. longicollis an ideal bioindicator to compare food webs in natural communities versus those impacted by fisheries and aquaculture.
- Interactions between 4-aminoquinoline and heme: Promising mechanism against Trypanosoma cruzi. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Int J Parasitol Drugs Drug Resist 2016 Jul 14; 6(3):154-164.
Chagas disease is a neglected tropical disease caused by the flagellated protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi. The current drugs used to treat this disease have limited efficacy and produce severe side effects. Quinolines, nitrogen heterocycle compounds that form complexes with heme, have a broad spectrum of antiprotozoal activity and are a promising class of new compounds for Chagas disease chemotherapy. In this study, we evaluated the activity of a series of 4-arylaminoquinoline-3-carbonitrile derivatives against all forms of Trypanosoma cruzi in vitro. Compound 1g showed promising activity against epimastigote forms when combined with hemin (IC50<1 μM), with better performance than benznidazole, the reference drug. This compound also inhibited the viability of trypomastigotes and intracellular amastigotes. The potency of 1g in combination with heme was enhanced against epimastigotes and trypomastigotes, suggesting a similar mechanism of action that occurs in Plasmodium spp. The addition of hemin to the culture medium increased trypanocidal activity of analog 1g without changing the cytotoxicity of the host cell, reaching an IC50 of 11.7 μM for trypomastigotes. The mechanism of action was demonstrated by the interaction of compound 1g with hemin in solution and prevention of heme peroxidation. Compound 1g and heme treatment induced alterations of the mitochondrion-kinetoplast complex in epimastigotes and trypomastigotes and also, accumulation of electron-dense deposits in amastigotes as visualized by transmission electron microscopy. The trypanocidal activity of 4-aminoquinolines and the elucidation of the mechanism involving interaction with heme is a neglected field of research, given the parasite's lack of heme biosynthetic pathway and the importance of this cofactor for parasite survival and growth. The results of this study can improve and guide rational drug development and combination treatment strategies.
- The host specificity of ape malaria parasites can be broken in confined environments. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Int J Parasitol 2016 Jul 30.
Recent studies have revealed a large diversity of Plasmodium spp. among African great apes. Some of these species are related to Plasmodium falciparum, the most virulent agent of human malaria (subgenus Laverania), and others to Plasmodium ovale, Plasmodium malariae and Plasmodium vivax (subgenus Plasmodium), three other human malaria agents. Laverania parasites exhibit strict host specificity in their natural environment. Plasmodium reichenowi, Plasmodium billcollinsi, Plasmodium billbrayi and Plasmodium gaboni infect only chimpanzees, while Plasmodium praefalciparum, Plasmodium blacklocki and Plasmodium adleri are restricted to gorillas and Plasmodium falciparum is pandemic in humans. This host specificity may be due to genetic and/or environmental factors. Infrastructures hosting captive primates, such as sanctuaries and health centres, usually concentrate different primate species, thus favouring pathogen exchanges. Using molecular tools, we analysed blood samples from captive non-human primates living in Gabon to evaluate the risk of Plasmodium spp. transfers between host species. We also included blood samples from workers taking care of primates to assess whether primate-human parasite transfers occurred. We detected four transfers of Plasmodium from gorillas towards chimpanzees, one from chimpanzees to gorillas, three from humans towards chimpanzees and one from humans to mandrills. No simian Plasmodium was found in the blood samples from humans working with primates. These findings demonstrate that the genetic barrier that determines the apparent host specificity of Laverania is not completely impermeable and that parasite exchanges between gorillas and chimpanzees are possible in confined environments.