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Ontogenetic changes in helminth membrane function

  • C. Arme (a1)

Summary

During their life-cycle many parasites experience a wide range of environments including free living and those provided by a variety of intermediate and final hosts. The nutritional requirements of parasites are met by physiological processes adapted to exploit the physico-chemical characteristics provided by different hosts. In helminth parasites these adaptations are frequently expressed on the tegumentary surface. As an example of adaptations within the Trematoda, the control of monosaccharide transport in Proterometra sp. is described. Environmental sodium, although not directly involved in the uptake process, nevertheless regulates the expression of transport capabilities. In the Cestoda, the uptake of monosaccharides and amino acids is described for Hymenolepis diminuta. The metacestode of this tapeworm inhabits the blood system of an arthropod, and the adult the gut of a mammal. There are quantitative and qualitative differences in the amino acids and monosaccharides in these two environments and these are reflected in the transport mechanisms exhibited by the two forms of the life-cycle. In Echinococcus granulosus the transfer of amino acids, sugars and macromolecules across the membranes of hydatid cysts and protoscoleces is described. The major difference between these two stages in the life-cycle relates to the ability of hydatid cysts to absorb macromolecules, whereas protoscoleces are impermeable to these compounds. The potential for future work is emphasized.

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