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Biol Res. 2005;38(2-3):259-66.

Altered dopamine levels induced by the parasite Profilicollis antarcticus on its intermediate host, the crab Hemigrapsus crenulatus.

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Departamento de Ecología & Center for Advance Studies in Ecology & Biodiversity, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.


A serotonergic pathway is apparently involved in parasite-host interactions. Previous studies conducted in our laboratory showed increased rates in oxygen consumption and alterations in body posture in the crab Hemigrapsus crenulatus parasitized by the acanthocephalan, Profilicollis antarcticus. Such changes may be related to the functions described for biogenic amines in crustaceans. During the infective stage the acanthocephalans live freely in the hemocelomic cavity, suggesting that the possible alteration induced by biogenic amines may be related to their neurohormonal function in crustaceans. To test whether the presence of P. antarcticus produced neurohormonal changes in its intermediate host, H. crenulatus, we analyzed serotonin and dopamine levels in the host using HPLC with electrochemical detection. Two groups of 11 female crabs were studied; one group was artificially inoculated with two cystacanths while the other was used as the control. Our results show a dramatic increase in hemolymph dopamine, but not serotonin in H. crenulatus parasitized by the acanthocephalan P. antarcticus. Our results, along with those reported by Maynard (1996), suggest a parasite-specific strategy involved in the behavior alteration caused by the acanthocephalans on their intermediate host. The use of a biogenic amine as a mechanism of interaction by the parasites gives them an endless number of alternative potential actions on their intermediate hosts.

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