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Plasmodium berghei: osmotic fragility of malaria parasites and mouse host erythrocytes

Plasmodium berghei: osmotic fragility of malaria parasites and mouse host erythrocytes

Experimental Parasitology 40(3): 380-390

The osmotic properties of intraerythrocytic and ultrasonically liberated malaria parasites (P. berghei) were analyzed and compared with those of mouse host erythrocytes utilizing a multiple tube fragility test. Cells were incubated in phosphate buffered saline solutions of varying osmolalities ranging from 20-4000 mOsm. Changes in cell ultrastructure and parasite infectivity were used as indicators of osmotic damage. Intraerythrocytic and host cell-free plasmodia showed similar patterns of cell alteration and changes in infectivity following osmotic stress. The various developmental forms within each of the preparations responded somewhat differently to hypo-osmotic stress. Most merozoites seemed more sensitive than many trophozoites, schizonts and segmenters. Small trophozoites were, on the average, more resistant than other developmental forms. Incubation of parasite populations in hypotonic salt solutions with osmolalities slightly greater than the infectivity threshold of 100 mOsm lysed most of the merozoites, whereas many small trophozoites were still intact. While normal erythrocytes were more resistant to hypo-osmotic stress than were intracellular or free parasites, most parasitized erythrocytes were less resistant than normal erythrocytes. The predominant alteration induced by hyperosmotic stress appears in the parasite's nuclear region with myelination of the nuclear membranes and chromatin clumping. The infectivity threshold in the hypertonic range was about 2500 mOsm. These obligate intracellular parasites have a wide range of osmotic sensitivities and they are capable of existing for short periods in various osmotic environments ranging from 100-2500 mOsm without complete loss of infectivity. These parasites apparently have osmotic regulatory capabilities at least comparable to those of host cells.

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Accession: 006133096

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PMID: 789104

DOI: 10.1016/0014-4894(76)90104-1

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