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Susceptibility/resistance to larval Echinococcus multilocularis infection varies greatly depending on host species and strains. Whereas several mice strains and non-human primates are highly susceptible to alveolar echinococcosis, rats and most of humans are considered as more resistant. In this study, we aimed to elucidate factors responsible for host resistance in rats (Experiments A–D). (A) The parasite establishment was not observed in immunocompetent Wistar rats orally inoculated with sodium hypochlorite resistant eggs with/without pig bile, or activated/non-activated oncospheres (NAO). Peritoneal inoculation with NAO or metacestode tissue allowed the parasite establishment in rats. (B) T-cell-deficient athymic nude rats showed complete resistance against the metacestode establishment after oral inoculation with parasite eggs. This finding suggests that T-cell-independent parasite clearance occurred in the animals during early phase of the parasite invasion. Finally, Wistar rats that received pharmacological immunosuppression using either dexamethasone (DMS) alone or methotrexate (MTX) i.p. alone or a combination of these compounds were orally inoculated with the parasite's eggs. As a result (D), successful establishment of metacestode with protoscoleces was observed in all 3 rats treated with DMS (s.c.) alone or in all 6 rats treated with DMS (s.c.) plus MTX but not in 8 rats with MTX alone, suggesting that factors affected by DMS treatment are responsible to regulate the parasite invasion and establishment.
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