Intestinal myoelectric alterations in rats chronically infected with the tapeworm Hymenolepis diminuta

Am J Physiol. 1994 Nov;267(5 Pt 1):G851-8. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.1994.267.5.G851.


This study determined that intestinal myoelectric activity was profoundly altered during a strictly luminal, chronic, tapeworm infection. Chronically implanted bipolar electrodes were attached to five sites on the serosal surface of the rat small intestine. One was placed on the duodenum, three on the jejunum, and the fifth on the ileum. Electromyographic recording in nonfasted unanesthetized animals was begun at day 5 postsurgery. All electromyographic recordings were analyzed for slow wave (SW) frequency, phase III frequency, duration of phase III, and percentage of SW with spike potentials. Three initial control recordings prior to infection confirmed the presence of normal interdigestive motility characterized by the three phases (I, II, III) of the migrating myoelectric complex (MMC). Two nonpropulsive myoelectric alterations were observed in infected animals: the repetitive bursts of action potentials (RBAP) and periods of sustained spike potentials (SSP). Myoelectric activity from infected animals indicated decreased cycling of the interdigestive MMC. RBAP and SSP were more prevalent in the distal small intestine corresponding to tapeworm location. The percent of spike potential activity indicated that there was a reversal in the spike potential gradient on the small intestine. The number of spike potentials was maximal in caudal and minimal in oral intestine. We propose that overall localized increases in myoelectric spike potential activity represent increased contractility and decreased propulsion triggered by the presence of the tapeworm. These motility changes were surprising, since the tapeworm Hymenolepis diminuta does not penetrate the intestinal mucosa. This interaction between parasite and host may prevent expulsion of the tapeworm from the small intestine.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Chronic Disease
  • Electromyography
  • Gastrointestinal Motility
  • Hymenolepiasis / physiopathology*
  • Intestines / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Myoelectric Complex, Migrating*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley