The skin is a significant but overlooked anatomical reservoir for vector-borne African trypanosomes

Capewell, P. et al. (2016) The skin is a significant but overlooked anatomical reservoir for vector-borne African trypanosomes. eLife, 5, e17716. (doi: 10.7554/eLife.17716) (PMID:27653219) (PMCID:PMC5065312)

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The role of mammalian skin in harbouring and transmitting arthropod-borne protozoan parasites has been overlooked for decades as these pathogens have been regarded primarily as blood-dwelling organisms. Intriguingly, infections with low or undetected blood parasites are common, particularly in the case of Human African Trypanosomiasis caused by Trypanosoma brucei gambiense. We hypothesise, therefore, the skin represents an anatomic reservoir of infection. Here we definitively show that substantial quantities of trypanosomes exist within the skin following experimental infection, which can be transmitted to the tsetse vector, even in the absence of detectable parasitaemia. Importantly, we demonstrate the presence of extravascular parasites in human skin biopsies from undiagnosed individuals. The identification of this novel reservoir requires a re-evaluation of current diagnostic methods and control policies. More broadly, our results indicate that transmission is a key evolutionary force driving parasite extravasation that could further result in tissue invasion-dependent pathology.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Marchesi, Dr Francesco and MacLeod, Professor Annette and Weir, Professor Willie and Capewell, Dr Paul and Cooper, Dr Anneli and Benson, Dr Robert and Garside, Professor Paul and O'Neill, Ms Kerry and Johnston, Dr Pamela and Stevenson, Mrs Lynn and O'Connell, Dr Caroline
Authors: Capewell, P., Cren-Travaille, C., Marchesi, F., Johnston, P., Clucas, C., Benson, R. A., Gorman, T.-A., Calvo-Alvarez, E., Crouzols, A., Jouvion, G., Jamonneau, V., Weir, W., Stevenson, M. L., O'Neill, K., Cooper, A., Swar, N.-r. K., Bucheton, B., Ngoy, D. M., Garside, P., Rotureau, B., and MacLeod, A.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Infection & Immunity
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:eLife
Publisher:eLife Sciences Publications
ISSN (Online):2050-084X
Published Online:22 September 2016
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2016 The Authors
First Published:First published in eLife 5:e17716
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
558211The origins and mechanisms of human infectivity in African trypanosomes.Annette MacLeodWellcome Trust (WELLCOME)095201/Z/10/ZRI BIODIVERSITY ANIMAL HEALTH & COMPMED
371798The Wellcome Centre for Molecular Parasitology ( Core Support )Andrew WatersWellcome Trust (WELLCOME)085349/B/08/ZIII - PARASITOLOGY