Litomosoides sigmodontis: dynamics of the survival of microfilariae in resistant and susceptible strains of mice

Exp Parasitol. 2000 Feb;94(2):67-74. doi: 10.1006/expr.1999.4475.


Litomosoides sigmodontis in the BALB/c mouse is the only model of filariasis which allows the observation of the complete development in an immunocompetent mouse. In this study, we injected microfilariae (mf) intravenously, as well as into the pleural cavity, the site of natural release of mf from adult female worms, and followed the kinetics of elimination within the host. In susceptible BALB/c mice, mf circulated at high levels in the blood. In contrast, in C57BL/6 mice, which are refractory to full development, mf were eliminated rapidly from the peripheral blood. However, 6 days after intrapleural injection, viable larvae could be found in the pleural cavity and lung capillaries of both susceptible and resistant strains. The numbers of mf in the pleural cavity and lung capillaries in individual mice were significantly correlated, but not dependent on strain or peripheral microfilaraemia. Thus, although C57BL/6 mice showed enhanced production of nitric oxide by pleural exudate cells and a faster change in the numbers of circulating leukocytes after injection, rapid killing of mf by cell or nitric oxide-mediated mechanisms were not the reason for the different outcome. Furthermore, 3 h after iv injection, only a small percentage of mf could be recovered from the peripheral circulation, indicating the presence of a reservoir for mf containment. In conclusion, injected mf showed disparate dynamics of persistence within susceptible and resistant hosts, which is similar to the disparate outcome of natural infections with L. sigmodontis. This difference became obvious within 1 day after injection. The lung capillary system plays obviously a crucial part in regulation of microfilaremia. Our model also provides a possible means to explain frequent cases of occult infections in human filariasis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Filariasis / immunology*
  • Filarioidea / immunology*
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Immunocompetence
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C / immunology
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C / parasitology*
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL / immunology
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL / parasitology*
  • Microfilariae / immunology
  • Nitric Oxide / biosynthesis
  • Parasitemia / immunology
  • Pleura / metabolism
  • Pleura / parasitology
  • Spleen / cytology
  • Spleen / immunology


  • Nitric Oxide