Delayed tail loss during the invasion of human skin by schistosome cercariae
Schistosomiasis is initiated when cercarial larvae invade human skin. Contrary to long-held assumptions, most cercariae of Schistosoma mansoni do not shed their propulsive tails as they penetrate. Scanning electron microscopy studies and infection experiments with entire human skin and differentiated, stratum corneum-like, human keratinocyte cultures, have shown that most cercarial tails enter the skin along with their bodies. We propose that this behaviour is an adaptive trait linked with concomitant immunity.(Received July 19 2002)
(Revised September 27 2002)
(Accepted September 27 2002)
Key Words: Schistosoma mansoni; tail loss; cercariae; invasion; concomitant immunity.
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