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Giardia lamblia: a report of drug effects under cell differentiation

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The Giardia lamblia life cycle is characterized by two phases during which two major cell differentiation processes take place: encystation and excystation. During encystation, the trophozoites transform into cysts, the resistance form. Once ingested by a susceptible host, the cysts are stimulated to excyst in the stomach, and the excysted trophozoites adhere to the epithelium of the upper small intestine. Our work analyses the effects of four benzimidazole derivatives during Giardia differentiation into cysts and evaluates the excystation efficiency of water resistant cysts. Albendazole (AB) showed the most significant results by inhibiting encystation about 30% and a decreasing rate of excystation efficiency. The ultrastructural organization of the cyst adhesive disk was notably affected by AB treatment. Although other benzimidazoles showed some effect on encystation, they were not able to inhibit the excystation process. It is known that the benzimidazoles affect the cytoskeleton of many organisms but how it interferes in Giardia differentiation processes is our main focus. The importance of studying Giardia's differentiation under drug action is reinforced by the following arguments: (1) Cysts eliminated by hosts undergoing treatment could still be potentially infective; (2) once the host has been treated, it would be desirable that the shedding of cysts into the environment is avoided; (3) the prevention of Giardia dissemination is a question of extreme importance mainly in underdeveloped countries, where poor sanitary conditions are related to high rates of giardiasis. This report concerns the importance of keeping the environment free from infective cysts and on Giardia’s drug resistance and differentiating abilities.

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This work is dedicated to the memory of Professor Luiz Henrique Monteiro Leal. The authors thank Dalva Lira for technical assistance in cell culture and to Mr. David G. Straker for reviewing the English. This work was supported by Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq), Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES), Sub-Reitoria de Pós-graduação e Pesquisa (SR2-UERJ), Instituto Oswaldo Cruz/Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, and Fundação Carlos Chagas Filho de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (FAPERJ). The experiments were performed in accordance with the established by the Guidelines on the Care and Use of Animals for Experimental Purposes and Infectious Agents (NACLAR).

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Correspondence to Helene Santos Barbosa.

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Hausen, M.A., de Oliveira, R.P., Gadelha, A.P.R. et al. Giardia lamblia: a report of drug effects under cell differentiation. Parasitol Res 105, 789 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00436-009-1463-4

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  • Benzimidazole
  • Cyst Wall
  • Albendazole
  • Differential Interference Contrast
  • Giardiasis