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Mol Biosyst. 2011 May;7(5):1367-75. doi: 10.1039/c0mb00295j. Epub 2011 Feb 11.

Infection with the carcinogenic human liver fluke, Opisthorchis viverrini.

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  • 1Queensland Tropical Health Alliance, James Cook University, Cairns, QLD, Australia.


Throughout Southeast Asia there is a strikingly high incidence of cholangiocarcinoma (CCA--hepatic cancer of the bile duct epithelium), particularly in people from rural settings in Laos and Northeast Thailand who are infected with the liver fluke, Opisthorchis viverrini, one of only three carcinogenic eukaryotic pathogens. More ubiquitous carcinogenic microbes, such as Helicobacter pylori, induce cancer in less than 1% of infected people, while as many as one-sixth of people with opisthorchiasis will develop CCA. The mechanisms by which O. viverrini causes cancer are multi-factorial, involving mechanical irritation from the activities and movements of the flukes, immunopathology, dietary nitrosamines and the secretion of parasite proteins that promote a tumourigenic environment. Genomic and proteomic studies of the liver fluke secretome have accelerated the discovery of parasite proteins with known/potential roles in pathogenesis and tumourigenesis, establishing a framework towards understanding, and ultimately preventing, the morbidity and mortality attributed to this highly carcinogenic parasite.

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