Abstract

The course of infection of Echinostoma caproni was followed in female ICR mice, a permissive laboratory host, from infection to natural termination. Twenty-one mice were infected with 20 metacercariae via oral intubation and housed 3 per cage. Three mice from a randomly selected cage were necropsied at 1 mo intervals. A second group of 15 mice was infected approximately 1 yr later to replace mice negative at necropsy in the first group. Mice in the second group were examined weekly for the presence of eggs in the feces. Mice negative for eggs on consecutive days were killed and necropsied. The location of individual worms and worm clusters were located in 20 segments of the small intestine. Adult worms were killed and fixed in hot formalin, stained, and prepared as whole mounts. Standard measurements were taken using a compound microscope fitted with an ocular micrometer. The infection spontaneously resolved in 10 mice from 7 to 32 wk PI, indicating the host response is highly variable and extending the maximum recorded length of E. caproni infections in ICR mice to 31 wk. A moribund worm was found in the feces of an animal that continued to pass eggs for an additional 2 mo indicating individual variation in worm responses. Worms located preferentially in the ileum (segments 11–13) during the first 3 mo of the infection but shifted to the jejunum (segments 8–9) during weeks 4–6. Morphologically, worms of different ages clustered together in multivariate space, with substantial overlap between the 3- and 4-mo-old infrapopulations and between the 5- and 6-mo-old infrapopulations. Muscular structures increased in size throughout the experiment, while the gonads increased in size for the first 3 mo and then declined during the last 3 mo. The relationship between E. caproni and ICR mice is more nuanced than previously reported. The reduction in gonad size and the shift from the ileum to the jejunum in the last 3 mo likely are related. These changes might be attributable to a localized immune response by mice to E. caproni that results in the ileum becoming less hospitable and a resultant relocation of the worms to a less favorable location in the jejunum.

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