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Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. 1994 Apr-Jun;89(2):253-9.

Trypanosoma cruzi: metacyclogenesis in vitro--I. Changes in the properties of metacyclic trypomastigotes maintained in the laboratory by different methods.

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Centro de Biología Molecular de Parásitos (BioMolP), Facultad de Ciencias de la Salud, Universidad de Carabobo, Valencia, Venezuela.


In this work we have studied the modifications in the biological properties of Trypanosoma cruzi when the parasite is maintained for a long time in axenic culture. The studies were done with a clone from an avirulent strain (Dm30L) and a non-cloned virulent strain (EP) of T. cruzi. Both parasites were maintained, for at least three years, by successive triatomine/mouse alternate passage (control condition), or by serial passage in axenic medium (culture condition), or only in the mouse (mouse condition). The comparison between parasites of culture and control condition showed that metacyclogenesis capacity was reduced in the former and that the resulting metacyclics displayed an attenuated virulence. In order to compare the virulence of metacyclics from the urine of the insect vector, Rhodnius prolixus were infected by artificial feeding with parasites of the control or culture condition. After three triatomine/triatomine passages, there was observed an almost identical biological behavior for these parasites, hence indicating that the maintenance of T. cruzi for a long time in axenic culture affects the differentiation capacity and the virulence of the parasite. Additionally, it was demonstrated that it is possible to maintain T. cruzi exclusively through passages in the invertebrate host.

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