Human proliferative sparganosis update

Parasitol Int. 2020 Apr:75:102036. doi: 10.1016/j.parint.2019.102036. Epub 2019 Dec 10.


Proliferative sparganosis is one of the most bizarre and mysterious parasitic diseases ever described. The causative parasite is Sparganum proliferum, which is a pseudophyllidean cestode distinct from Spirometra tapeworms. Here we overview this rare but fascinating disease with the all original case reports on human patients published in the last 115 years. Proliferative sparganosis is clearly divided into two disease types, cutaneous and internal proliferative sparganosis. Cutaneous type starts with a skin eruption caused by the dermal invasion of a sparganum. Skin lesion progresses to larger areas of the body if left untreated. Various internal organs and body wall can be eventually affected. The clinical symptoms of patients in this group are very similar to each other. Molecular data suggest that cutaneous proliferative sparganosis is caused by S. proliferum of which genetic variation is limited, regardless of the time or localities of the emergence of patients. Internal proliferative sparganosis, on the other hand, is much more heterogeneous. Some cases show aggressive infection in internal organs, while others show only restricted lesions. Some of the cases that had been cited as proliferative sparganosis in the past literature were removed from the list, because they were judged as cyclophyllidean tapeworm infections. DNA sequencing is mandatory for the definite diagnosis of proliferative sparganosis. The Venezuelan strain of S. proliferum is maintained in experimental mice in Japan, which is fully prepared for the experimental study with advanced technologies in modern molecular biology.

Keywords: Cestode; Metacestode infection; Proliferative sparganosis; Sparganosis; Sparganum proliferum.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Skin Diseases, Parasitic / diagnosis
  • Skin Diseases, Parasitic / parasitology
  • Skin Diseases, Parasitic / pathology
  • Sparganosis / classification
  • Sparganosis / diagnosis
  • Sparganosis / parasitology*
  • Sparganosis / pathology
  • Sparganum / physiology*