Inherent biomechanical traits enable infective filariae to disseminate through collecting lymphatic vessels

Nat Commun. 2019 Jul 1;10(1):2895. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-10675-2.


Filariases are diseases caused by arthropod-borne filaria nematodes. The related pathologies depend on the location of the infective larvae when their migration, the asymptomatic and least studied phase of the disease, comes to an end. To determine factors assisting in filariae dissemination, we image Litomosoides sigmodontis infective larvae during their escape from the skin. Burrowing through the dermis filariae exclusively enter pre-collecting lymphatics by mechanical disruption of their wall. Once inside collectors, their rapid and unidirectional movement towards the lymph node is supported by the morphology of lymphatic valves. In a microfluidic maze mimicking lymphatic vessels, filariae follow the direction of the flow, the first biomechanical factor capable of helminth guidance within the host. Finally, non-infective nematodes that rely on universal morpho-physiological cues alone also migrate through the dermis, and break in lymphatics, indicating that the ability to spread by the lymphatic route is an ancestral trait rather than acquired parasitic adaptation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Filariasis / parasitology*
  • Filarioidea / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Lymphatic System / blood supply
  • Lymphatic System / parasitology
  • Lymphatic Vessels / parasitology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C3H
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Skin / parasitology