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Kinetics of the Invasion and Egress Processes of Babesia divergens, Observed by Time-lapse Video Microscopy

Penelitian - Babesia divergens is an apicomplexan protozoan parasite that is naturally transmitted by ixodid ticks. The cases are concentrated in Europe where the intraerythrocytic parasite is considered highly pathogenic to cattle in which it causes babesiosis commonly known as redwater.

This parasite also causes severe babesiosis in humans, occurring as a fulminant infection. B. divergens infections are therefore considered medical emergencies and patients require immediate treatment. Once the host has been bitten by an infected tick, B. divergens sporozoites invade the erythrocytes and the asexual cycle of the parasite then commences.

Penelitian Kinetics of the Invasion and Egress Processes of Babesia divergens, Observed by Time-lapse Video Microscopy

The asexual multiplication is asynchronous and parasites multiply in erythrocytes by binary fission, resulting in a considerably complex pleomorphic process. Recently, it has been possible to elucidate a temporal and coordinated proliferative cycle in vitro over 24 hours.

Estrella Montero of the Instituto de Salud Carlos III in Madrid and team present detailed observations on the processes of invasion and egress of erythrocytes by the apicomplexan. Time-lapse images reveal numerous unexpected findings associated with the dynamics of B. divergens and its ability to manipulate the erythrocyte during both processes in its asexual cycle under in vitro conditions.

“Visualization and analysis of the images enabled us to obtain useful information and broaden our knowledge of complex and crucial events involved with parasitisation of human erythrocytes by B. divergens,” said Montero.

Despite the speed at which these processes occur and the small size of the parasite, the team capture infective merozoites moving vigorously and causing striking deformations in the erythrocyte’s plasma membrane during an active invasion.

Researchers also observed intraerythrocytic dynamic stages as paired pyriforms, double paired pyriforms, tetrads, unattached pyriform sister cells and multiple parasite stages resulting in the release of large numbers of merozoites over a short period.



Of considerable interest is that time-lapse images reveal a novel mechanism of egress used by B. divergens to exit the human erythrocyte. The release occurs when parasites establish contacts with the plasma membrane of the erythrocyte from within, before exiting the cell.

Journal : Elena Sevilla et al. Kinetics of the invasion and egress processes of Babesia divergens, observed by time-lapse video microscopy, Scientific Reports, 20 September 2018, DOI:10.1038/s41598-018-32349-7

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