Schistosoma mansoni: The cutaneous response to cercarial challenge in naive guinea pigs and guinea pigs vaccinated with highly irradiated cercariae

E. J. Pearce, Diane J. McLaren

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Schistosoma mansoni: the cutaneous response to cercarial challenge in naive guinea pigs and guinea pigs vaccinated with highly irradiated cercariae. International Journal for Parasitology 16: 491-510. Naive guinea pigs and guinea pigs vaccinated 4 weeks previously with highly irradiated cercariae were challenged percutaneously with normal cercariae. Skin samples from the challenge site were then harvested at varying times to provide histological, quantitative and ultrastructural data on the respective cellular responses to cercarial invasion. The primary cutaneous reaction was characterised by neutrophils; these cells reached peak numbers (16% of total cells) by 18 h. Eosinophils and basophils made only a small contribution to the infiltrate (2.9 and 5.7% respectively). Some basophils showed evidence of anaphylactic degranulation, others seemed to be damaged, but most appeared normal. Mononuclear cells of varied morphology were present at all times, but activated fibroblasts were prominent, and collagen deposition increased with time. Degranulating mast cells were recognised at 24 and 48 h. Dead schistosomula were never seen in naive-challenged skin, although one or two of the observed larvae showed minor tegumental abnormalities. In vaccinated guinea pigs, the cutaneous cellular response to challenge was significantly enhanced, with basophils dominating the reaction (33% of total cells at 24 h). Many basophils were already degranulating by the anaphylactic mechanism at 3 h post challenge, and free basophil granules were seen frequently. Both intact cells and free granules congregated in close proximity to invading larvae. Eosinophils were also present in greater numbers at secondary reaction sites, but they never exceeded 6% of the total infiltrate. Mononuclear cells believed to be immature eosinophils were prominent from 3 h. For the first time, the mechanism of eosinophil attachment and degranulation onto a multicellular target, described previously only from in vitro investigations, was recognized in vivo. Neutrophil numbers matched those recorded in naive-challenged skin at 3 and 6 h, but declined thereafter, while mast cells were seen degranulating at these early times. Mononuclear cells again presented a variety of morphological appearances; of particular note were large cells that had phagocytosed debris and were presumed to be macrophages, and small rounded cells with scant cytoplasm and few organelles, that may have been lymphocytes. By 12 h, large areas of the dermis had become severely disorganised and numerous, free basophil granules were distributed amongst the other cellular constituents. Dead schistosomula, denuded of tegument, were clearly recognised at 6 h, and such individuals invariably had neutrophils attached to their exposed muscle layers. Since dead schistosomula were not identified in naive-challenged guinea pig skin, it is concluded that a percentage of the challenge larvae, however small, is preferentially killed in the skin of the vaccinated animals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)491-510
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal for Parasitology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1986
Externally publishedYes


  • attrition
  • basophils
  • cercariae
  • eosinophils
  • guinea pigs
  • mast cells
  • microscopy
  • mononuclear cells
  • neutrophils
  • schistosomula
  • Srhistosoma munsoni
  • Trematoda
  • vaccination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases


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