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Histopathological changes in adult Schistosoma japonicum harbored in mice treated with a single dose of mefloquine

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New research has shown that mefloquine, an arylaminoalcohol used against malaria, is active against Schistosoma japonicum and Schistosoma mansoni in vivo. To enhance our understanding of the potential mechanism of action of mefloquine against schistosomiasis, we examined the dynamics of histopathological changes in adult S. japonicum. Mice infected with S. japonicum for 35 days were treated intragastrically with a single dose of mefloquine (400 mg/kg). One to 35 days after mefloquine administration, drug-induced histopathological alterations were studied. Twenty-four hours after treatment, S. japonicum showed signs of degeneration, including focal roughing and swelling of the tegument and/or muscles, dilatation of the gut, focal desquamation of gut epithelial cells, and a decrease in pigment particles. There was extensive degeneration of vitelline cells and appearance of pigment particles visible in the cytoplasm in female worms. The extent and severity of histopathological changes increased over time; 48 h posttreatment, two thirds of female worms and a quarter of male worms were classified as dead. Three to 14 days posttreatment, typical histological changes observed in surviving male worms were vesiculation, swelling of parenchymal tissues, and dilatation of gut. In females, there was disintegration and infiltration of inflammatory cells, forming dead worm abscesses and early stage of dead worm granuloma. Finally, 35 days posttreatment, only dead male and female worm granuloma were found. Our results provide further evidence of in vivo activity of mefloquine against adult schistosomes.

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This investigation received financial support from the National Institute of Parasitic Diseases, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Shanghai, China). J. Utzinger (project no. PPOOB-102883, PPOOB-119129) and J. Keiser (project no. PPOOA-114941) are grateful to the Swiss National Science Foundation for financial support.

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Correspondence to Shu-Hua Xiao.

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Zhang, C., Xiao, S., Utzinger, J. et al. Histopathological changes in adult Schistosoma japonicum harbored in mice treated with a single dose of mefloquine. Parasitol Res 104, 1407 (2009).

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  • Mefloquine
  • Schistosomiasis
  • Praziquantel
  • Artesunate
  • Artemether