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Effect of a cysteine protease inhibitor on Fasciola hepatica (liver fluke) fecundity, egg viability, parasite burden, and size in experimentally infected sheep

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Fasciola hepatica secretes proteolytic enzymes during liver invasion. The present study examined the effects of the cysteine protease inhibitor Ep-475 on sheep considering the following variables: serum levels of aspartate aminotransferase, l-lactate dehydrogenase, and γ-glutamyltransferase, liver fluke fecundity, egg viability, parasite burden, and size. Twenty-four male sheep were randomly allocated in four groups of six animals each as follows: group A was infected with F. hepatica metacercariae and treated with 50 mg/kg of Ep-475, group B was infected and untreated, group C was uninfected and treated, and group D was uninfected and untreated. All animals were euthanized 10 weeks after the experimental infection. Serum activities of enzymes in infected animals were significantly lower in Ep-475-treated sheep than in untreated controls, although liver damage was produced. No significant reduction in total worm burden was observed between treated and untreated sheep. However, there was a significant difference on the average size, structure development, ova counts, and egg viability of liver flukes from these two groups. Results showed that Ep-475 reduces liver damage due to fasciolosis and induces an impairment of liver fluke growth and fecundity. These effects pinpoint liver fluke proteases as potential targets for pharmacological intervention.

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The authors are grateful to Dr. John P. Dalton of the Institute for the Biotechnology of Infectious Diseases, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, for excellent assistance. This study complies with the current laws of Mexico.

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Correspondence to Yazmin Alcala-Canto.

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Alcala-Canto, Y., Ibarra-Velarde, F., Sumano-Lopez, H. et al. Effect of a cysteine protease inhibitor on Fasciola hepatica (liver fluke) fecundity, egg viability, parasite burden, and size in experimentally infected sheep. Parasitol Res 100, 461–465 (2007).

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  • Cysteine Protease
  • Agmatine
  • Parasite Burden
  • Worm Burden
  • Liver Fluke