Differences in Complement-mediated Killing of Entamoeba histolytica Between Men and Women—An Explanation for the Increased Susceptibility of Men to Invasive Amebiasis?

Margaret Snow Departments of Medicine and Molecular Microbiology, Washington University School of Medicine, Saint Louis, Missouri

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Minghe Chen Departments of Medicine and Molecular Microbiology, Washington University School of Medicine, Saint Louis, Missouri

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Jian Guo Departments of Medicine and Molecular Microbiology, Washington University School of Medicine, Saint Louis, Missouri

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John Atkinson Departments of Medicine and Molecular Microbiology, Washington University School of Medicine, Saint Louis, Missouri

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Samuel L. Stanley Jr. Departments of Medicine and Molecular Microbiology, Washington University School of Medicine, Saint Louis, Missouri

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Men are more than 7 times more likely to develop amebic liver abscess or amebic dysentery caused by Entamoeba histolytica than women. Because the complement system could play a key role in controlling amebiasis, we determined whether serum from men and women differ in the ability to kill amebic trophozoites. We found that serum from women was significantly more effective in killing E. histolytica trophozoites than serum from men, and this killing was complement dependent. Our results provide a possible explanation for the differential susceptibility of men and women to amebic liver abscess and amebic colitis.

Author Notes

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    Hamelmann C, Foerster B, Burchard GD, Horstmann RD, 1992. Lysis of pathogenic and nonpathogenic Entamoeba histolytica by human complement: methodological analysis. Parasite Immunol 14 :23–35.

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    Glumac G, Mates A, Eidinger D, 1976. The heterocytotoxicity of human serum. III. Studies of the serum levels and distribution of activity in human populations. Clin Exp Immunol 26 :601–608.

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    Brai M, Tolone G, Magro A, Waks H, Brai M, 1976. Alternative complement pathway: activity levels in allogeneic pregnancy. Experientia 32 :1589–1591.

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