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Schistosoma mansoni:Effect of a protein-free host diet on tegument

Experimental Parasitology
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/0014-4894(75)90044-2
  • Protein-Free Diet
  • Schistosoma Mansoni
  • Tegument
  • Degeneration
  • Regeneration
  • Nutrition
  • Hamsters
  • Biology


Abstract The effect of a protein deficiency in the host's diet on the tegument of Schistosoma mansoni is described. Both the infected and the uninfected hamsters, fed on the diet, were stunted in growth; but the effect of the diet was more pronounced on the infected hamsters. The parasites recovered from both the liver and the mesenteric veins of animals fed on the diet from the time of infection were also retarded in growth. The tegument of both groups of parasites were reduced in height as compared with the tegument of control worms. The worms recovered from the liver of the hamsters were less adversely affected than the worms recovered from the mesenteric veins, in the sense that the tegument did not show any sign of degeneration, as was found in the latter group of parasites. In the worms from the mesenteric veins, the external plasma membrane was approximately half the thickness of the external plasma membrane of control worms. The invaginations of the external plasma membrane of experimental worms penetrated deeply into the tegument and in most instances almost reached the basal plasma membrane. Prolonged feeding of the hosts on the experimental diet resulted in the disintegration of the tegument in localised areas of the body. There was no adverse effect on adult worms of an established infection after the hosts were transferred to the protein-free diet for up to 3 wk. The ability of the tegument to regenerate after transferring the hosts from the experimental diet to normal laboratory diet (control diet) was demonstrated.

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