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J Hepatol. 2001 Jan;34(1):134-9.

Schistosomiasis mansoni and viral B hepatitis in woodchucks.

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Laboratory of Experimental Pathology, Gonçalo Moniz Research Center (FIOCRUZ), Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.



An interaction between human schistosomiasis and viral hepatitis B has often been suggested, but never established. The experimental investigation has been hampered by the lack of a suitable model. Only woodchucks are susceptible to both Schistosoma mansoni and a B-like hepatitis virus (WHV) infections. This study explores the relevance of this unique model regarding hepatitis/schistosomiasis interactions.


Woodchucks (Marmota monax and Marmota marmota) were infected with: (a), S. mansoni; (b), WHV; or (c), both S. mansoni and WHV.


Following the experimental parasitic infection of woodchucks, with or without WHV, schistosomiasis presented a peculiar and severe course in early infection, involving mostly the intestines. Subsequently, the intestinal and hepatic lesions underwent considerable modulation and the periovular granulomas decreased in size and number, while the parasitic infection tended to self-cure within the 9 months following infection. Nine woodchucks inoculated with the hepatitis virus alone presented with several degrees of acute and chronic hepatitis, with one of them dying of hepatocarcinoma 1 year after inoculation. Four woodchucks with concomitant viral and schistosome infections presented with a simple additive pattern of lesions, without any evidence of modification or aggravation of either one of the two infections. Similarly, no significant impact of schistosomiasis on WHV serum markers could be seen.


Schistosomiasis and viral hepatitis in woodchucks run parallel courses, with neither apparent special histological features derived from the association of the two conditions, nor modulation of WHV replication. Schistosomiasis itself, however, was observed to run a peculiar course in the woodchuck. The present data are important for consideration in further experiments exploring the interplay between schistosomiasis and viral hepatitis induced liver damage in this unique experimental host.

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