Send to

Choose Destination
PLoS One. 2014 May 2;9(5):e94567. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0094567. eCollection 2014.

Stress exacerbates infectivity and pathogenicity of Blastocystis hominis: in vitro and in vivo evidences.

Author information

Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Department of Biomedical Science, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.



Stress alters the oxidant-antioxidant state and immune cell responses which disrupts its function to combat infection. Blastocystis hominis, a common intestinal protozoan has been reported to be opportunistic in immunocompromised patients namely cancer. B. hominis infectivity in other altered immune system conditions especially stress is unknown. We aimed to demonstrate the stress effects towards the susceptibility and pathogenicity of B. hominis infection.


Three-week-old Wistar rats were divided into four groups: (a)control; (b)stress-induced; (c)B. hominis infected; (d)stress-induced with B. hominis infection; (n = 20 respectively). Stress was induced for an hour daily (30 days) using a Belly Dancer Shaker. Weight gain was monitored, stool samples were collected for B. hominis screening and blood for the determination of differential count, levels of immunoglobulin, oxidative damage, and peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) proliferation upon induction with solubilized antigen of B. hominis (Blasto-Ag). Group (b) exhibited the highest level of weight gain. Group (d) had higher levels of parasite cyst count in stools, serum IgE, oxidized protein and lipid compared to the group (c). Levels of monocyte and antioxidant in group (d) were decreased and their PBMCs showed highest inhibition of proliferation level when exposed to Blasto-Ag. Monocyte level in Group (b) showed insignificant difference compared to group (a) but was significantly lower compared to group (c). Antioxidant levels in group (c) were generally lower compared to group (a) and (b). Inhibition level exhibited by Blasto-Ag treated PBMCs of group (c) was higher compared to group (a) and (b).


The pathogenicity and augmentation of B. hominis infection is enhanced when stress is present. Lifestyles today are becoming increasingly stressed and the present findings suggest that the parasite which has been reported to be one of the most common organisms seen in stool surveys, namely in developing countries, may tend to be more pathogenic in stressful situations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Public Library of Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center