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Parasitology. 2001;123 Suppl:S129-41.

Multiple strategies of schistosomes to meet their requirements in the intermediate snail host.

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Research Institute Neurosciences, Vrije Universiteit, Faculty of Biology, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


The results of the studies on our model combination Trichobilharzia ocellata-Lymnaea stagnalis, presented in this review, lead to the conclusion that schistosomes use multiple strategies to reach their goals, i.e. to propagate and to continue their life cycle. They have to escape from being attacked by the internal defence system (IDS) of the snail host and to profoundly affect the host's energy flow, of which reproduction and growth are the main determinants, for their own benefit. These physiological changes they establish mainly by interfering with the two regulatory systems in the snail host, the IDS and the neuroendocrine system (NES). Moreover, these two regulatory systems clearly interact with each other. Parasitic E/S products affect the host's IDS both in a direct and an indirect way. The neuropeptides or neuropeptide-like substances that are secreted by parasite glands into the host directly suppress haemocyte activity in the snail. The indirect effects include effects of (1) peptides from connective tissue cells and (2) neuropeptides from NES and/or IDS. Parasitic E/S products also induce the effects on energy flow in the host. These E/S products act either directly on a target, as shown for the inhibiting effect of the parasite on the development of the male copulation organ, or on the NES regulating reproductive activity, e.g. on gene expression. Indirect effects of E/S products on the NES (hormone-receptor interaction, electrical activity) are mediated by a factor from connective tissue cells, presumably belonging to the IDS. The physiological changes in the snail host are obviously of vital importance for the parasites, since they make use of different strategies to bring them about.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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