Characterization of Tapeworm Metabolites and Their Reported Biological Activities

Molecules. 2019 Apr 15;24(8):1480. doi: 10.3390/molecules24081480.


Parasitic helminths infect billions of people, livestock, and companion animals worldwide. Recently, they have been explored as a novel therapeutic modality to treat autoimmune diseases due to their potent immunoregulatory properties. While feeding in the gut/organs/tissues, the parasitic helminths actively release excretory-secretory products (ESP) to modify their environment and promote their survival. The ESP proteins of helminths have been widely studied. However, there are only limited studies characterizing the non-protein small molecule (SM) components of helminth ESP. In this study, using GC-MS and LC-MS, we have investigated the SM ESP of tapeworm Dipylidium caninum (isolated from dogs) which accidentally infects humans via ingestion of infected cat and dog fleas that harbor the larval stage of the parasite. From this D. caninum ESP, we have identified a total of 49 SM (35 polar metabolites and 14 fatty acids) belonging to 12 different chemotaxonomic groups including amino acids, amino sugars, amino acid lactams, organic acids, sugars, sugar alcohols, sugar phosphates, glycerophosphates, phosphate esters, disaccharides, fatty acids, and fatty acid derivatives. Succinic acid was the major small molecule present in the D. caninum ESP. Based on the literature and databases searches, we found that of 49 metabolites identified, only 12 possessed known bioactivities.

Keywords: Helminths; bioactivities; excretory-secretory products; small molecules; tapeworm.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cat Diseases / metabolism*
  • Cat Diseases / parasitology
  • Cats
  • Cestoda / metabolism*
  • Cestode Infections / metabolism*
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Dog Diseases / metabolism*
  • Dog Diseases / parasitology
  • Dogs
  • Humans