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Korean J Parasitol. 2013 Apr;51(2):243-6. doi: 10.3347/kjp.2013.51.2.243. Epub 2013 Apr 25.

The dimension of Trichomonas vaginalis as measured by scanning electron microscopy.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Hanyang University Guri Hospital, College of Medicine, Guri, Korea.


It is known that physicochemical conditions (e.g., pH, temperature, and ionic strength) affect the size of trichomonads. In this study, the sizes of 4 isolates of Trichomonas vaginalis cultured for more than a year (called "old T") and 3 isolates freshly isolated from vaginitis cases (called "fresh T") were compared by scanning electron microscopy. Although the fresh T had shorter body length, body width, and flagellar length than old T, total length (about 26 µm), including body length, flagella length, and axostyle length was almost the same in the 2 groups. A striking difference was observed between the axostyles of the 2 groups; the axostyle length of the fresh T (8.2 µm) was more than twice as long as that of the old T (4.0 µm). However, in several parasitology textbooks, the length of T. vaginalis is said to vary widely from 7 to 32 µm, and its undulating membrane is said to extend about half way (53.5%) to the posterior end of the body. On the other hand, in our study, the undulating membrane was observed to extend more than 3/4 of the body length (72.1%) in old T, whereas in fresh T it could not be measured. Taken together, we suggest that T. vaginalis averages 26 (21-32) µm in total length, with 9.5 (7.4-11.4) µm of body length and 6.8 (5.3-7.7) µm of width, and its undulating membrane extending 3/4 of its body length. Therefore, these findings may provide useful information for morphological characteristics of T. vaginalis.


Trichomonas vaginalis; axostyle; scanning electron microscopy; size

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