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Parasit Vectors. 2010 Mar 26;3(1):23. doi: 10.1186/1756-3305-3-23.

Entamoeba histolytica and E. dispar trophozoites in the liver of hamsters: in vivo binding of antibodies and complement.

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Departamento de Patologia Geral, Instituto de Ciências Biológicas da Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Av, Antônio Carlos 6627, Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brasil.



Human amoebiasis is caused by the parasitic protozoan Entamoeba histolytica that lives in the large intestine of hosts, where can produce asymptomatic colonization until severe invasive infections with blood diarrhea and spreading to other organs. The amoebic abscesses in liver are the most frequent form of amoebiasis outside intestine and still there are doubts about the pathogenic mechanisms involved in their formation. In this study we evaluated the in situ binding of antibodies, C3 and C9 complement components on trophozoites, in livers of hamsters infected with E. histolytica or E. dispar. These parameters were correlated with the extension of the hepatic lesions observed in these animals and with trophozoites survivor.


Hamsters were inoculated intra-hepatically with 100,000 trophozoites of E. histolytica or E. dispar strain and necropsied 12, 24, 48, 72, 144 and 192 h after inoculation. Antibodies, C3 and C9 binding to trophozoites were detected by immunohistochemistry. The estimation of the necrosis area and the number of labeled trophozoites was performed using digital morphometry analysis.


In the liver sections of animals inoculated with the amoebas, the binding of antibodies to E. histolytica trophozoites was significantly lower than to E. dispar trophozoites. Trophozoites of E. dispar were also more frequently vacuolated and high labeled cellular debris observed in the lesions. Positive diffuse reaction to C3 complement component was more intense in livers of animals inoculated with E. histolytica after 24 and 72 h of infection. C3(+) and C9(+) trophozoites were detected in the vascular lumen, granulomas and inside and in the border of necrotic areas of both infected group animals. C3(+) and C9(+) trophozoite debris immunostaining was higher in livers of E. dispar than in livers of E. histolytica. A positive correlation between necrotic areas and number of C9(+) trophozoites was observed in animals inoculated with E. dispar.


Morphological and immunohistochemical results suggest that antibodies and complement are able to bind and destroy some trophozoites in the liver of experimentally infected hamsters, perhaps selecting the more resistant parasites which are responsible by progression of amoebic abscesses. The findings indicate that E. histolytica possesses an enhanced ability in vivo to evade the immune responses compared to E. dispar, although it also causes experimental hepatic lesions.

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