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J Med Microbiol. 1979 Aug;12(3):363-71.

Observations by immunofluorescence microscopy and electron microscopy on the cytopathogenicity of Naegleria fowleri in mouse embryo-cell cultures.


The destruction of secondary mouse-embryo (ME) cells by Naegleria fowleri was studied by indirect immunofluorescence with ME-cell antiserum as a specific label to trace the fate of mammalian-cell cytoplasm. The appearance of naegleria-induced cytopathic effect in the cultures coincided with the accumulation of discrete particles containing granules of ME-cell antigen within the cytoplasm of amoebae, suggesting that the organisms ingested host-cell material. In cultures containing cytochalasin B, a non-lethal inhibitor of phagocytosis by N. fowleri trophozoites failed to acquire any granular fluorescence and were not cytopathogenic. The engulfment of mammalian-cell cytoplasm by the organisms was confirmed when thin sections of naegleria-infected ME-cell cultures were examined by electron microscopy. Amoebae were seen in the process of detaching portions of cytoplasm from whole ME cells by means of distinctive ingesting pseudopodia, and fragments of mammalian-cell cytoplasm were identified within the food vacuoles of trophozoites. There was no evidence for cytotoxic disruption of ME cells before or during engulfment of these fragments. It is concluded that N. fowleri trophozoites attack and destroy cultured ME cells by a phagocytosis-like mechanism alone, without the aid of any amoeba-associated cytotoxic or cytolytic agents. The possible significance of these findings with respect to the in-vivo pathocity of N. fowleri is discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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