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Parasit Vectors. 2017 Nov 10;10(1):563. doi: 10.1186/s13071-017-2515-8.

Successful long-term maintenance of Mansonella perstans in an in vitro culture system.

Author information

Parasite and Vector Research Unit (PAVRU), Department of Microbiology and Parasitology, University of Buea, Buea, Cameroon.
Research Foundation for Tropical Diseases and the Environment (REFOTDE), Buea, Cameroon.
Institute of Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Parasitology, University Hospital Bonn, Bonn, Germany.
Institute of Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Parasitology, University Hospital Bonn, Bonn, Germany.
German Centre for Infection Research (DZIF), Bonn-Cologne partner site, Bonn, Germany.



Approximately 114 million people are infected with Mansonella perstans in large proportions of Africa. In contrast to other filariae that infect humans, M. perstans-infected individuals show no distinct pathology or specific clinical picture, indicating a well-tuned adaptation to the host. In addition, since M. perstans adult worms reside in serous cavities which are difficult to access, research has been hindered and there is a paucity of knowledge about the biology of M. perstans, especially the development of the different life stages as well as M. perstans-driven immune responses. Thus in this study, an in vitro culture system was developed which allows an in-depth analysis of M. perstans.


Culicoides species were caught in Ediki (Kumba), Southwest Region within Cameroon following a blood meal on a microfilaremic donor that had 1500 microfilariae/ml of peripheral blood and kept in captivity for 12 days at 23 °C. In a pilot experiment, 15 infective larvae were obtained from the midges and co-cultured with a confluent monolayer of monkey kidney epithelial cells (LLC-MK2) in DMEM medium supplemented with 10% FBS for up to 77 days. The resulting survival rates of 33% revealed that the cell-conditioned medium was suitable for long-term maintenance of M. perstans worms. To confirm these preliminary observations, 249 infective larvae were cultured for 50 days and their development was monitored daily and microscopically graded for motility. In total, 170 (68.3%) filariae survived and 124 (49.8%) larvae moulted between days 21-30 to become L5 stage larvae which were motile and showed continuous vigorous movement.


We have established an in vitro culture system for the generation and long-term maintenance of viable M. perstans worms. This technique will be an important tool to study parasite biology and development, the role in host immunity, and might be helpful to discover novel treatment strategies against this filariae.


In vitro culture; L3 infective larvae; Long-term maintenance; Mansonella perstans; Worms

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