Variable Maturation and Oviposition by Female Schistosoma japonicum in Mice: The Effects of Irradiation of the Host Prior to Infection

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  • Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892

The maturation of female Schistosoma japonicum was found to vary greatly within each of two Philippine strains of this parasite and some females did not contain uterine eggs 7 to 15 weeks after infection while others contained numerous eggs before the fifth week of infection. It was found that female worms containing <20 uterine eggs contributed little to the accumulation of eggs in the tissues of infected mice. Such worms also generally appeared to be immature. The variable rate of maturation of worms is likely to have profound effects on the immune reactions of mice as well as on the pathologic response to infection. Systematic delay in oviposition was serendipitously found in worms from mice which had been irradiated for other purposes prior to exposure to S. japonicum, and from the fourth to the sixth week after infection egg production by worms in irradiated mice lagged well behind that in intact mice. Seven to 10 weeks after infection these worms were laying normal numbers of eggs, as judged by egg passage per worm pair in the feces and the accumulation of eggs in the tissues. S. mansoni developed normally in irradiated mice.