Journal of Helminthology

Research Papers

Differential in vitro effects of insulin on Taenia crassiceps and Taenia solium cysticerci

G. Escobedoa1, M.C. Romanoa2 and J. Morales-Montora3 c1

a1 Facultad de Química, Departamento de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, AP 70228, México D.F. 04510, México

a2 Departamento de Fisiología, Biofísica y Neurociencias, Cinvestav IPN, Av. Instituto Politécnico, Nacional 2508, Col. San Pedro Zacatenco 07360, México

a3 Departamento de Inmunología, Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, AP 70228, México D.F. 04510, México


Hormones play a significant role in murine cysticercosis (Taenia crassiceps), and increase the frequency of porcine cysticercosis caused by Taenia solium. In the present study, we report the in vitro effect of insulin on the larval stages of T. crassiceps (ORF strain) and T. solium. In vitro exposure of T. crassiceps cysticerci to insulin was found to stimulate this parasite's reproduction twofold with respect to control values, while the same treatment had no effect on T. solium cysticerci. Moreover, normal female mice (BALB/cAnN) infected with T. crassiceps cysticerci previously exposed to insulin presented larger parasite loads than mice inoculated with vehicle-treated cysticerci. To determine the possible molecular mechanisms by which insulin affects T. crassiceps, the insulin receptor was amplified by means of reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Interestingly, both T. crassiceps and T. solium expressed the insulin receptor, although insulin had effects only on T. crassiceps. These results demonstrate that insulin has a dichotomistic effect; it acts directly only on T. crassiceps cysticerci reproduction, possibly through its binding to a specific insulin receptor synthesized by the parasite. Thus, insulin may be recognized by T. crassiceps cysticercus cells as a mitogenic factor, and contribute to parasite proliferation inside the host, as well as to the female mouse susceptibility to T.crassiceps. This phenomenon has not been reported for cysticercosis caused by T. solium, which could, in part, be related to the poor effect of insulin upon the human parasite.

(Accepted March 19 2009)

(Online publication June 24 2009)


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