Complement regulation on the surface of cultured schistosomula and adult worms of Schistosoma mansoni

Moshe Marikovsky, Miriam Parizade, Ruth Arnon, Zvi Fishelson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cercaria and freshly prepared schistosomula of Schistosoma mansoni are highly sensitive to complement. However, early in their maturation, the schistosomula become resistant to complement killing. This conversion is preceded by a rapid and massive release of several acetabular proteases and of the glycocalyx coat. Thus, shedding of the glycocalyx which is a major immunogen and a strong activator of the alternative pathway of complement permits the parasite to escape immune damage. Mechanically transformed schistosomula, which were cultured in a defined synthetic medium and developed complement resistance, could be converted by proteolysis to complement sensitivity. Trypsin and pronase markedly increased the susceptibility of cultured schistosomula to complement. The trypsin‐induced complement sensitivity persisted for at least 19 h without recovery of resistance. Similar treatment with trypsin produced complete killing of adult worms by complement in absence of antibodies. Efficient killing was obtained with normal human serum (NHS), with normal guinea pig serum (GpS), and with C4‐depleted HS and C4‐deficient GpS indicating that the killing was mediated by the cytolytic alternative pathway of complement. Larger quantities of C3b with intact α′ chain could be demonstrated on trypsin‐treated than on non‐treated schistosomula. Antibodies which were raised in rabbits by immunization with the trypsin‐released material bound to cultured (non‐treated) schistosomula and to adult worms, and induced their killing in GpS and C4‐deficient GpS. These results suggest that following release of the glycocalyx, the transforming schistosomula of S. mansoni spontaneously express a complement regulatory protein(s). A similar regulator is postulated to be present on the surface of adult worms. Such regulatory molecules may serve as good targets for immunotherapy, since antibodies directed to them will inhibit their regulatory activity and thus potentiate in vivo the lytic action of complement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-227
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Immunology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1990
Externally publishedYes


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