Research Article

Schistosoma mansoni: differential cell death associated with in vitro culture and treatment with Astiban (Roche)

J. R. Shawa1 and D. A. Erasmusa1

a1 Department of Zoology, University College, P.O. Box 78, Cardiff CF1 IXL

A simple technique for the maintenance in vitro of mature Schistosoma mansoni is described and critically assessed at the ultrastructural level. Females were cultured for 4–6 days with no apparent ultrastructural change, but after this period changes appeared in the cells of the ovary and vitelline gland. At a later stage (10–12 days) lipid bodies appeared in the parenchyma cells. These changes occurred in worms which were active, paired with males and were egg–laying. Thus the activity, pairing behaviour and egg–laying characteristics are not adequate to reveal the true morphological condition and presumably the physiological and biochemical status of cultured worms.

This technique was used to study the effect of Astiban on females and the results were compared with worms treated in vivo. Astiban concentrations greater than 30 µg/ml killed worms within 7–20 h and acted non–selectively. Astiban at low concentrations (10µg/ml) during short–term culture (1–3 h) resulted in a selective action of the drug on maturing vitelline cells. Thus, although the degree of cell damage caused by drug treatment was more severe and occurred earlier than the effects observed in worms cultured in vitro without drugs, both treatments resulted in differential cell death.

(Received December 06 1976)