Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Vet Parasitol. 1999 Aug 1;84(3-4):297-316.

Chemo- and thermosensory neurons: structure and function in animal parasitic nematodes.

Author information

Department of Pathobiology School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia 19104, USA.


Nematode parasites of warm-blooded hosts use chemical and thermal signals in host-finding and in the subsequent resumption of development. The free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is a useful model for investigating the chemo- and thermosensory neurons of such parasites, because the functions of its amphidial neurons are well known from laser microbeam ablation studies. The neurons found in the amphidial channel detect aqueous chemoattractants and repellants; the wing cells-flattened amphidial neurons-detect volatile odorants. The finger cells-digitiform amphidial neurons-are the primary thermoreceptors. Two neuron classes, named ADF and ASI, control entry into the environmentally resistant resting and dispersal dauer larval stage, while the paired ASJ neurons control exit from this stage. Skin-penetrating nematode parasites, i.e. the dog hookworm Ancylostoma caninum, and the threadworm, Strongyloides stercoralis, use thermal and chemical signals for host-finding, while the passively ingested sheep stomach worm, Haemonchus contortus, uses environmental signals to position itself for ingestion. Amphidial neurons presumably recognize these signals. In all species, resumption of development, on entering a host, is probably triggered by host signals also perceived by amphidial neurons. In the amphids of the A. caninum infective larva, there are wing- and finger-cell neurons, as well as neurons ending in cilia-like dendritic processes, some of which presumably recognize a sequence of signals that stimulate these larvae to attach to suitable hosts. The functions of these neurons can be postulated, based on the known functions of their homologs in C. elegans. The threadworm, S. stercoralis, has a complex life cycle. After leaving the host, soil-dwelling larvae may develop either to infective larvae (the life-stage equivalent of dauer larvae) or to free-living adults. As with the dauer larva of C. elegans, two neuron classes control this developmental switch. Amphidial neurons control chemotaxis to a skin extract, and a highly modified amphidial neuron, the lamellar cell, appears to be the primary thermoreceptor, in addition to having chemosensory function. The stomach worm, Haemonchus contortus, depends on ingestion by a grazing host. Once ingested, the infective larva is exposed to profound environmental changes in the rumen. These changes stimulate resumption of development in this species. We hypothesize that resumption of development is under the control of the ASJ neuronal pair. Identification of the neurons that control the infective process could provide the basis for entirely new approaches to parasite control involving interference with development at the time and place of initial host-contact.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Support Center