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Int J Parasitol. 1999 May;29(5):743-8.

Eicosanoid production by adult Fasciola hepatica and plasma eicosanoid patterns during fasciolosis in sheep.

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Institute of Parasitology, Hannover School of Veterinary Medicine, Germany.


Fasciola hepatica infection in sheep is known to cause anaemia, fever and elevated levels of liver enzymes. It was hypothesised that eicosanoids play a role in these pathophysiological changes, so the pattern of plasma eicosanoids during the course of acute and chronic fasciolosis was studied in sheep infected with a single dose of 800 F. hepatica metacercariae. Blood plasma was collected weekly until week 17 p.i. from infected sheep, and from uninfected controls. Adult F. hepatica were then recovered from bile ducts and incubated for production of ES products. Eicosanoids were determined by enzyme immuno-assay in blood plasma, fluke homogenates and ES products after chromatographic purification of the samples. Fever and anaemia were seen from 3 to 12 weeks p.i. and from 8 to 17 weeks p.i., respectively. Onset of fever was accompanied by elevated liver enzyme activities (aspartate amino transferase and gamma glutamyl transferase) in the plasma. In general, the plasma levels of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), prostaglandin I2 (PGI2) and leukotriene B4 (LTB4) were reduced during the acute and chronic stages of the infection, whereas thromboxane B2 (TXB2) was reduced only at 8 weeks p.i. The TXB2/PGI2 ratio was increased in favour of TXB2 at 3 and 11 weeks p.i. Additionally, TXB2, PGI2, PGE2 and LTB4 were detected both in ES products and in homogenates of F. hepatica. It was concluded that eicosanoid depletion in the plasma is caused by parasite-induced liver damage. The changes in eicosanoid levels are highly correlated to the clinical signs of the disease. Changes in the pattern of host plasma eicosanoids during fasciolosis, as well as parasite-derived eicosanoids, may reflect or contribute to the pathology of the disease.

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