A confocal microscopical study of the musculature of adult Schistosoma mansoni

G. R. MAIR a1, A. G. MAULE a1, T. A. DAY a2 and D. W. HALTON a1c1
a1 Parasitology Research Group, School of Biology and Biochemistry, Medical Biology Centre, The Queen's University of Belfast, Belfast BT9 7BL, UK
a2 Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA


Using the filamentous actin marker, FITC-conjugated phalloidin, the major muscle systems of adult male and female schistosomes have been examined. The body wall musculature comprises an outer sheath of circular fibres, within which there is a compact layer of short, spindle-shaped longitudinal fibres and a lattice-like arrangement of inner diagonal fibres. Within the oral sucker and acetabulum 3 fibre types, circular, radial and longitudinal can be distinguished. The wall of the oesophagus is lined by a grid-like array of circular and longitudinal fibres, whereas the walls of the intestinal caeca contain only comparably broad circular fibres. Within the female reproductive system, only circular fibres are present in the oviduct, vitelline duct and uterus. In contrast, the wall of the ootype displays closely arranged circular and longitudinal muscle fibres. Antisera to previously identified myoactive compounds (serotonin [5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT], neuropeptide F [Moniezia expansa] and GYIRFamide [Bdelloura candida, Dugesia tigrina]) were used as neuronal markers in a preliminary study of the spatial inter-relationships of specific nerve fibres and various muscle systems. Serotoninergic fibres innervate both suckers and also constitute a subtegumental nerve net. In males they provide innervation to the dorso-ventral muscle fibres of the gynaecophoric canal, and in females they innervate the circular and longitudinal muscle fibres of the ootype. Neuropeptide F and the FMRFamide-related peptide, GYIRFamide are both localized within nerve plexuses associated with the dorso-ventral fibres of the gynaecophoric canal, and are evident in the innervation of the ventral and oral sucker.

(Received December 11 1999)
(Revised February 3 2000)
(Accepted February 3 2000)

Key Words: Trematoda; Schistosoma mansoni; muscle; phalloidin; nerve; neuropeptides; confocal microscopy.

c1 Corresponding author: School of Biology and Biochemistry, Medical Biology Centre, The Queen's University of Belfast, Belfast BT9 7BL, UK. Tel: +44 (0)2890 335792. Fax: +44 (0)2890 236505. E-mail: