Schistosoma mansoni: Effect of infection on reproduction and gonadal growth in Biomphalaria glabrata

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Sexually mature Biomphalaria glabrata were exposed to 12 miracidia of Schistosoma mansoni, and egg production of snails was monitored over a period of 5 weeks. During the study period, exposed snails grew at approximately the same rate as unexposed controls. Castration, as measured by a reduction in the mean number of eggs laid per snail, occurred between 14 and 21 days postexposure (PE). The reduction in fecundity in infected snails coincided with the migration and establishment of daughter sporocysts in the digestive gland and gonad. Enumeration of individual oocytes in longitudinal sections of the ovotestis revealed that uninfected snails contained significantly more oocytes per section than infected snails at 27, 31, and 40 days PE. In addition, the mean area of gonadal sections of control snails increased over the 40-day experimental period, whereas there was no such increase in gonadal area of infected snails. These data suggest that there is an inhibition in gonadal growth in infected snails. When oocyte data were expressed in terms of mean gonadal area, the mean number of oocytes per mm2 of gonad of uninfected and infected snails did not differ significantly over the study period, except at Day 14 PE, when infected snails contained a significantly greater number of oocytes per mm2 of gonad than did uninfected controls. It is hypothesized that daughter sporocysts of S. mansoni are primarily responsible for the inhibition of host reproductive activity, and may be mediating their effects through mechanisms involved in the regulation of gonadal growth. However, it is not known whether such action is mediated directly on the gonads or indirectly through alterations in snail host metabolism. © 1989.

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Experimental Parasitology

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