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Mast cell distribution in nodules of Onchocerca volvulus from untreated patients with generalized onchocerciasis

  • G. WILDENBURG (a1), S. KORTEN (a1) and D. W. BÜTTNER (a1)


Onchocercomata with a defined worm population were analysed to elucidate the distribution of mast cells. Nodules with live females were classified according to the presence or absence of microfilariae. Immunohistochemical staining was performed using antibodies specific for mast cells or IgE. Mast cells appeared singly or in diffuse accumulations perivascularly and in inflammatory infiltrates between adult Onchocerca volvulus and in the capsular area. No mast cells were detected in cystic parts. Only few, scattered mast cells were found in the fibrous zone around the adult worm. They were increased with stronger infiltration and hence, related to the inflammatory cells. Mast cells were never localized directly at adult worms or microfilariae. A correlation of the mast cell distribution to the occurrence of eosinophils was observed regarding higher numbers of mast cells and eosinophils in nodules with microfilariae-producing females. Nodules with single males revealed higher numbers of mast cells than nodules with non-producing females, although both contained very few eosinophils. Onchocercomata with dead worms contained significantly more mast cells than those with live filariae. In conclusion, the localization and frequency of mast cells is contingent on the vitality and productivity of the worms and therefore, indirectly and directly on the release of O. volvulus antigens.


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  • ISSN: 0031-1820
  • EISSN: 1469-8161
  • URL: /core/journals/parasitology
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