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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2004 Jan;48(1):236-41.

Growth-inhibitory effect of heparin on Babesia parasites.

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  • 1National Research Center for Protozoan Diseases, Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, Inada-cho, Obihiro, Hokkaido 080-8555, Japan.


We examined the inhibitory effects of three heparins on the growth of Babesia parasites. The multiplication of Babesia bovis, B. bigemina, B. equi, and B. caballi in in vitro cultures and that of B. microti in vivo were significantly inhibited in the presence of heparins, as determined by light microscopy. Treatment with various concentrations of heparin showed complete clearance of the intracellular parasites. Interestingly, a higher percentage of abnormally multidividing B. bovis parasites was observed in the presence of low concentrations of heparin. Furthermore, fluorescein isothiocyanate-labeled heparin was preferably found on the surfaces of extracellular merozoites, as detected by confocal laser scanning microscopy. These findings indicate that the heparin covers the surfaces of babesial merozoites and inhibits their subsequent invasion of erythrocytes.

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