Onchocerca volvulus: Parasitological and serologic responses in experimentally infected chimpanzees and mangabey monkeys

Mark L. Eberhard, Jennifer W. Dickerson, Victor C.W. Tsang, Essie M. Walker, Eric A. Ottesen, R. Chandrashekar, Gary J. Weil, Milan Trpis, Elizabeth Strobert, Ioannis Constantinidis, R. Brent Swenson

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23 Scopus citations


Six chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and six mangabey monkeys (Cercocebus atys) were inoculated with Onchocerca volvulus third-stage larvae (L3) of West African origin. Two chimpanzees each received 200, 300, or 400 L3, while three mangabeys each received either 50 or 250 L3. All six chimpanzees became microfilaria positive between 11 and 25 months postinoculation (PI), while two of the six mangabeys were skin-snip positive at 24 and 37 months PI, respectively. All chimpanzees developed antibodies to two native antigens of 14 and 22 kDa and to the recombinant antigens OV16, OC3.6, and OC9.3. Marked antibody responses were observed in the mangabey monkeys, and in general, the responses were similar to those observed in the chimpanzees. However, in the mangabeys, these responses did not generally manifest themselves until later in the infection. The results of this study suggest that in chimpanzees, the smallest inoculum used, 200 L3, was sufficient to initiate consistent infections that had parasitologic and immunologic parameters equivalent to animals inoculated with larger numbers of larvae. Similarly, inoculation of mangabey monkeys with small numbers of larvae appeared to be as likely to establish infection and induce immunologic responses as did inoculation of larger numbers of larvae. Microfilaria-positive chimpanzees and mangabey monkeys were examined by three conventional imaging techniques (X ray, ultrasound, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)), but no adult worms or nodules could be identified in any animal. The detection of antibodies directed against both native and recombinant antigens suggests that certain of these responses might be useful for detecting early (prepatent) infections well before microfilariae appear in the skin and they might also be useful in detecting occult infections. The characterization of these responses in nonhuman primates provides a less complex system for interpreting the similar responses seen in humans living in onchocerciasis-endemic areas.

Original languageEnglish
Article number71057
Pages (from-to)454-462
Number of pages9
JournalExperimental Parasitology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1995


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