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Acta Trop. 2009 May-Jun;110(2-3):137-47. doi: 10.1016/j.actatropica.2008.10.001. Epub 2008 Oct 15.

Triatominae-Trypanosoma cruzi/T. rangeli: Vector-parasite interactions.

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  • 1Universidad del Tolima, Barrio Santa Helena, IbaguĂ©, Colombia.


Of the currently known 140 species in the family Reduviidae, subfamily Triatominae, those which are most important as vectors of the aetiologic agent of Chagas disease, Trypanosoma cruzi, belong to the tribes Triatomini and Rhodniini. The latter not only transmit T. cruzi but also Trypanosoma rangeli, which is considered apathogenic for the mammalian host but can be pathogenic for the vectors. Using different molecular methods, two main lineages of T. cruzi have been classified, T. cruzi I and T. cruzi II. Within T. cruzi II, five subdivisions are recognized, T. cruzi IIa-IIe, according to the variability of the ribosomal subunits 24Salpha rRNA and 18S rRNA. In T. rangeli, differences in the organization of the kinetoplast DNA separate two forms denoted T. rangeli KP1+ and KP1-, although differences in the intergenic mini-exon gene and of the small subunit rRNA (SSU rRNA) suggest four subpopulations denoted T. rangeli A, B, C and D. The interactions of these subpopulations of the trypanosomes with different species and populations of Triatominae determine the epidemiology of the human-infecting trypanosomes in Latin America. Often, specific subpopulations of the trypanosomes are transmitted by specific vectors in a particular geographic area. Studies centered on trypanosome-triatomine interaction may allow identification of co-evolutionary processes, which, in turn, could consolidate hypotheses of the evolution and the distribution of T. cruzi/T. rangeli-vectors in America, and they may help to identify the mechanisms that either facilitate or impede the transmission of the parasites in different vector species. Such mechanisms seem to involve intestinal bacteria, especially the symbionts which are needed by the triatomines to complete nymphal development and to produce eggs. Development of the symbionts is regulated by the vector. T. cruzi and T. rangeli interfere with this system and induce the production of antibacterial substances. Whereas T. cruzi is only subpathogenic for the insect host, T. rangeli strongly affects species of the genus Rhodnius and this pathogenicity seems based on a reduction of the number of symbionts.

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