Sensory neuroanatomy of a skin-penetrating nematode parasite Strongyloides stercoralis. II. Labial and cephalic neurons

J Comp Neurol. 1997 Dec 15;389(2):212-23.


Host recognition, contact, and skin-penetration by Strongyloides stercoralis infective larvae are crucially important behavioral functions mediating transition from free-living to parasitic life. The sensilla of the worm's anterior tip presumably play an important role in these processes. Besides the main chemosensilla, the amphids, which are of central importance, the larva has 16 putative mechanosensilla. There are six inner labial sensilla: two dorsal, two ventral, and two lateral. The two dorsal and ventral pairs are each innervated by two neurons, whereas each lateral sensillum is singly innervated. The six outer labial and four cephalic sensilla are all singly innervated. All of these have the characteristics of mechanoreceptors: they are closed to the external environment, and closely associated with the overlying cuticle. Distally, their dendritic processes contain granular material and associated microtubules. With two exceptions, the relevant neuronal cell bodies lie in lateral ganglia adjacent to the nerve ring, their positions remarkably similar to those of their homologues in the free-living nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans. Cell bodies of two neuronal pairs, one of two dorsal inner labial neurons and one of two ventral inner labial neurons per side, are however, found far anterior to the remaining cell bodies. All labial and cephalic sensilla are apparently mechanoreceptors, complementing the well-developed chemosensilla. Presumably infective larvae require touch and stretch receptors, not only to initiate skin penetration by finding irregularities as points of access, but also to bore through tissue to reach their ultimate enteral destination.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Larva
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Models, Structural
  • Mouth
  • Neurons / ultrastructure*
  • Skin / parasitology
  • Strongyloides stercoralis / ultrastructure*