Visualisation of parasites in hosts

Dicrocoelioses are parasitic infections caused by trematode species of the genus Dicrocoelium, mainly by the small liver fluke D. dendriticum. Numerous species of wild and domestic mammals act as the definitive hosts, with the adult parasites locating in the liver, bile ducts and gall bladders.  Humans can also rarely be infected, with cases reported from Europe, Africa, Australia, India, and Saudi Arabia. Intermediate hosts are land molluscs and ants.  Most of the parasites in the ant host become metacercariae in the abdomen, but 1-3 settle in the brain and cause behavioural changes which increase the chances of the ant being ingested by definitive hosts.

We are using micro-computed tomography to visualise the parasites in the ant hosts to study their interaction with the brain. The study of this ant-parasite interaction could serve as a model for future studies to visualise host-parasite interactions in the intermediate hosts of other NTDs.

Primary LCNTDR organisation

LCNTDR Research team

External partners

  • Lethbridge Research and Development Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada/Agriculture et Agroalimentaire Canada
  • University College London