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      Reduced Susceptibility to Praziquantel among Naturally Occurring Kenyan Isolates of Schistosoma mansoni


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          The near exclusive use of praziquantel (PZQ) for treatment of human schistosomiasis has raised concerns about the possible emergence of drug-resistant schistosomes.

          Methodology/Principal Findings

          We measured susceptibility to PZQ of isolates of Schistosoma mansoni obtained from patients from Kisumu, Kenya continuously exposed to infection as a consequence of their occupations as car washers or sand harvesters. We used a) an in vitro assay with miracidia, b) an in vivo assay targeting adult worms in mice and c) an in vitro assay targeting adult schistosomes perfused from mice. In the miracidia assay, in which miracidia from human patients were exposed to PZQ in vitro, reduced susceptibility was associated with previous treatment of the patient with PZQ. One isolate (“KCW”) that was less susceptible to PZQ and had been derived from a patient who had never fully cured despite multiple treatments was studied further. In an in vivo assay of adult worms, the KCW isolate was significantly less susceptible to PZQ than two other isolates from natural infections in Kenya and two lab-reared strains of S. mansoni. The in vitro adult assay, based on measuring length changes of adults following exposure to and recovery from PZQ, confirmed that the KCW isolate was less susceptible to PZQ than the other isolates tested. A sub-isolate of KCW maintained separately and tested after three years was susceptible to PZQ, indicative that the trait of reduced sensitivity could be lost if selection was not maintained.


          Isolates of S. mansoni from some patients in Kisumu have lower susceptibility to PZQ, including one from a patient who was never fully cured after repeated rounds of treatment administered over several years. As use of PZQ continues, continued selection for worms with diminished susceptibility is possible, and the probability of emergence of resistance will increase as large reservoirs of untreated worms diminish. The potential for rapid emergence of resistance should be an important consideration of treatment programs.

          Author Summary

          The emergence of drug resistant pathogens is a great challenge to the control of infectious diseases. Schistosomiasis is one of the world's greatest neglected tropical diseases, and it is primarily controlled with the drug praziquantel. This drug is often used by repeatedly treating patients to maintain reduced worm burdens, an ideal situation to encourage the evolution of resistant worms. Although drug based control programs are increasing, monitoring efforts for drug resistance remain rare. We measured drug susceptibility of schistosomes from a cohort of patients in Kenya who are enrolled in a longitudinal study in which they are repeatedly treated with praziquantel. We found that schistosomes from previously treated patients were significantly less susceptible than those that were not. Also, schistosomes derived from a single patient who had been treated with praziquantel 18 times showed marked resistance. Although the findings of this study indicated that reduced drug susceptibility occurs in this population of schistosomes, this trait does not seem to be spreading widely or creating clinical levels of resistance. We hypothesize that the trait remains at low frequency because of the large population of schistosomes that are not exposed to the drug and/or potential fitness costs associated with reduced susceptibility.

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          Most cited references36

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          Schistosomiasis and water resources development: systematic review, meta-analysis, and estimates of people at risk.

          An estimated 779 million people are at risk of schistosomiasis, of whom 106 million (13.6%) live in irrigation schemes or in close proximity to large dam reservoirs. We identified 58 studies that examined the relation between water resources development projects and schistosomiasis, primarily in African settings. We present a systematic literature review and meta-analysis with the following objectives: (1) to update at-risk populations of schistosomiasis and number of people infected in endemic countries, and (2) to quantify the risk of water resources development and management on schistosomiasis. Using 35 datasets from 24 African studies, our meta-analysis showed pooled random risk ratios of 2.4 and 2.6 for urinary and intestinal schistosomiasis, respectively, among people living adjacent to dam reservoirs. The risk ratio estimate for studies evaluating the effect of irrigation on urinary schistosomiasis was in the range 0.02-7.3 (summary estimate 1.1) and that on intestinal schistosomiasis in the range 0.49-23.0 (summary estimate 4.7). Geographic stratification showed important spatial differences, idiosyncratic to the type of water resources development. We conclude that the development and management of water resources is an important risk factor for schistosomiasis, and hence strategies to mitigate negative effects should become integral parts in the planning, implementation, and operation of future water projects.
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            Sex- and stage-related sensitivity of Schistosoma mansoni to in vivo and in vitro praziquantel treatment.

            The efficacy of praziquantel against a Puerto Rican strain of Schistosoma mansoni was assessed using both in vivo and in vitro approach. The drug effective dose (50%) in the infected mouse model was about 30 times higher when determined against 28-day-old infections than against 7-week-old parasites. Single-sex female infections were also largely refractory to treatment and single-sex male infections moderately refractory, in comparison with bisexual infections. The in vitro approach consisted of overnight exposure of parasite cultures to various drug concentrations, followed by several days of culture in drug-free medium. In vitro results confirmed in vivo data and allowed for the observation of schistosome morphological phenomena after praziquantel exposure. Early worm contraction was observed in all cases, even after exposure to sub-lethal concentrations of praziquantel or upon exposure of the largely refractory 28-day-old schistosomes. In these instances, however, worms resumed movements and normal shape upon drug removal and were able to survive. The inference of these observations on the clinical use of praziquantel and on its mechanism of action is discussed.
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              Drug-resistant schistosomiasis: resistance to praziquantel and oxamniquine induced in Schistosoma mansoni in mice is drug specific.

              Schistosoma mansoni infections in mice were treated with subcurative multiple doses of either praziquantel (PZQ) or oxamniquine (OX). With an early exception, the drug treatments commenced when the worms were adult, but before the infections had become fully patent, and the eggs subsequently produced by worms that had survived the drug treatments were used to infect snails. Six or seven drug-treated passages of S. mansoni in mice were completed for each of the drugs, with the amount of drug administered to the infected mice generally being increased with each passage. Eighty percent of the worms of the sixth passage selected for PZQ resistance survived three doses of 300 mg/kg of PZQ given between days 28 and 37 after infection, and 93% of those of the seventh passage survived the same drug dose. In contrast, only 13% of worms of the sixth PZQ-selected passage survived three doses of 200mg/kg of OX given during the same period after infection. Only 11% or fewer worms derived from S. mansoni infections that had not been subjected to any drug pressure survived the 3 x 300 mg/kg PZQ treatments. Worms selected for OX resistance over six passages were completely resistant to three doses of 200 mg/kg, but only 26% survived three doses of 300 mg/kg of PZQ. Therefore, the results indicate that S. mansoni subjected to drug pressure may develop resistance to schistosomicidal drugs over the course of relatively few passages, but that cross-resistance between PZQ and OX does not occur. This is the first demonstration of drug resistance to PZQ, the current drug of choice for human schistosomiasis.

                Author and article information

                Role: Editor
                PLoS Negl Trop Dis
                PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                August 2009
                18 August 2009
                : 3
                : 8
                : e504
                [1 ]Center for Evolutionary and Theoretical Immunology, Department of Biology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States of America
                [2 ]Departments of Statistics and Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, United States of America
                [3 ]Centre for Biotechnology Research and Development, Kenya Medical Research Institute, Nairobi, Kenya
                [4 ]Center for Global Health Research, Kenya Medical Research Institute, Kisumu, Kenya
                [5 ]Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases and Department of Microbiology, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, United States of America
                [6 ]Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Parasitic Diseases, Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America
                Australian Centre for International and Tropical Health, Australia
                Author notes

                Conceived and designed the experiments: SDM MLS CC NBW ESL. Performed the experiments: SDM MLS CC INM NBW MWM. Analyzed the data: SDM MLS LSK INM NBW. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: CC DMSK DGC CLB WES GMM ESL. Wrote the paper: SDM MLS LSK ESL.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Public Domain declaration which stipulates that, once placed in the public domain, this work may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose.
                : 14 April 2009
                : 17 July 2009
                Page count
                Pages: 10
                Research Article
                Evolutionary Biology
                Infectious Diseases/Antimicrobials and Drug Resistance
                Infectious Diseases/Helminth Infections

                Infectious disease & Microbiology
                Infectious disease & Microbiology


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