The infection can be transmitted between animals and humans and is caused by ingestion of aquatic plants or water contaminated with their larvae.

The «Fasciola hepatica» parasite causes a zoonotic disease that affects animals and humans worldwide. In a study, Spanish researchers have identified a series of proteins involved in biological processes relevant to its development.

Two studies published by PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases could help the identification of new targets for control and treatment of this disease, which is «a prominent global health and economic problem,» he pointed out at the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC).

The fasciolosisa infection that can be transmitted between animals and humansis produced by the ingestion of aquatic plants or water contaminated with their larvaecalled metacercariae, which migrate through the host until they reach the main bile ducts, where they mature into adult worms.

The treatment and prevention of this disease is «a problem of increasing concern due to the appearance of strong parasites to the medicine currently available, triclabendazole, and to the limited efficacy of the tested vaccines”, according to the main author of the research, David Becerro, from IRNASA-CSIC.

Develop antiparasitic vaccines, diagnostic test and new drugs for treatment and prevention of fasciolosis is essential.


With this objective, the scientific team has tried to better understand the process of infection by this parasitespecifically, the early interactions between the host and «Fasciola hepatica».

The team has been able to identify -says Becerro Recio-, proteins involved in proteolysis or protein degradation«a fundamental process for the parasite, since it allows it to migrate through host tissuesdegrade its structures to feed and degrade the essays that it has ‘glued’ to its surface as a defense mechanism».

Proteins related to the changes in other processes such as parasite nutritionthe response to free radicals or the muscular activity of the parasite.

To characterize the changes that occur in this first interaction, the researchers have developed a new «in vitro» model that replicates the moment in which the juvenile form of the parasite that penetrates the intestinal wall of the host.

In addition, they have used juveniles of the parasite and a culture of primary epithelial cells from the mouse small intestine to put them in contact.

After a period of joint incubation, «We separate both organisms and do a protein extraction. Using proteomics and bioinformatics techniques, we determined which proteins change their expression levels after that contact”, explains the researcher.

key to treatment

The team has also raised a mouse animal modelto determine what effects the passage through the intestinal wall has for both organisms.

The molecules identified in these models of early host-parasite interactions could help define new tools against fasciolosisTherefore, researchers continue to delve into these processes.

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Fasciolosis infects especially large herbivorous species, such as cattle and sheep, and humans throughout the world, causing significant economic losses to farmers and health problems in developing countries.

This has the status of a neglected disease and is included in the set of infectious diseases that mainly affect the poorest populations and with limited access to health services.