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Delayed tail loss during the invasion of human skin by schistosome cercariae

  • P. J. WHITFIELD (a1), A. BARTLETT (a1), N. KHAMMO (a2), A. P. R. BRAIN (a1), M. B. BROWN (a1), C. MARRIOTT (a1) and R. CLOTHIER (a2)...

Abstract

Schistosomiasis is initiated when cercarial larvae invade human skin. Contrary to long-held assumptions, most cercariae of Schistosoma mansoni do not shed their propulsive tails as they penetrate. Scanning electron microscopy studies and infection experiments with entire human skin and differentiated, stratum corneum-like, human keratinocyte cultures, have shown that most cercarial tails enter the skin along with their bodies. We propose that this behaviour is an adaptive trait linked with concomitant immunity.

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Corresponding author

School of Health and Life Sciences, King's College London, 150 Stamford Street, London SE1 9NN. Tel: +0207 848 4646. E-mail: phil.whitfield@kcl.ac.uk

Keywords

Delayed tail loss during the invasion of human skin by schistosome cercariae

  • P. J. WHITFIELD (a1), A. BARTLETT (a1), N. KHAMMO (a2), A. P. R. BRAIN (a1), M. B. BROWN (a1), C. MARRIOTT (a1) and R. CLOTHIER (a2)...

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