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Revista Brasileira de Parasitologia Veterinária

On-line version ISSN 1984-2961

Rev. Bras. Parasitol. Vet. vol.22 no.2 Jaboticabal Apr./June 2013  Epub June 17, 2013 

Research Note

Trypanoxyuris (Paraoxyuronema)lagothricis (Nematoda: Oxyuridae) in Lagothrix cana (Primates: Atelidae) from Brazil

Trypanoxyuris (Paraoxyuronema)lagothricis (Nematoda: Oxyuridae) em Lagothrix cana (Primates: Atelidae) no Brasil

Hudson Alves Pinto1  * 

Francisco Carlos Ferreira Junior1 

Vitor Luís Tenório Mati1 

Alan Lane de Melo1 

1Departamento de Parasitologia, Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais – UFMG, Belo Horizonte, MG, Brasil


During necropsy of a specimen of Lagothrix cana (É. Geoffroy, 1812) (Primates: Atelidae) from the Brazilian Amazon, pinworms were found in the large intestine. The intensity of infection was 64 parasites (17 males and 47 females) and there were no gross pathological changes related to parasitism. After morphological analysis the parasites were identified asTrypanoxyuris (Paraoxyuronema)lagothricis (Buckley, 1931) (Nematoda: Oxyuridae). This is the first record of this oxyurid species in primates in Brazil.

Key words: Nematodes; primates; pinworms


Durante a necropsia de Lagothrix cana (É. Geoffroy, 1812) (Primates: Atelidae) oriundo da Amazônia brasileira, oxiurídeos foram encontrados no intestino grosso. A intensidade de infecção foi de 64 parasitos (17 machos e 47 fêmeas), não havendo alterações patológicas macroscópicas relacionadas ao parasitismo. Após análise morfológica os parasitos foram identificados como Trypanoxyuris(Paraoxyuronema) lagothricis (Buckley, 1931) (Nematoda: Oxyuridae). Este é o primeiro relato desta espécie de oxiurídeo em primatas no Brasil.

Palavras-Chave: Nematódeos; primatas; oxiurídeos

The pinworm species of the genus Trypanoxyuris Vevers, 1923 (Nematoda: Oxyuridae) are tiny parasites that inhabit the large intestine of Neotropical non-human primates, although there are a few species of these parasites found in rodents (HUGOT, 1999). These helminths are the causative agents of oxyuriasis in platyrrhines and, similarly what can be observed in other pinworms from primates, Trypanoxyuris spp. present a direct life cycle in which it is verified the migration of ovigerous female worms to the perianal area, where oviposition takes place. After a short period of embryonation, the eggs of the parasite become infective and their ingestion is the primary mechanism of transmission (heteroinfection and external autoinfection); however, larvae of the parasite can hatch still in the anus and perianus of the infected host and migrate ascending to the intestine (retroinfection) (FELT; WHITE, 2005).

So far, 18 species of Trypanoxyuris are known and have been grouped in four subgenera: Trypanoxyuris(Trypanoxyuris) Vevers, 1923 with eight species occurring mainly in Cebinae, with some of them also found in primates of the families Aotidae, Atelidae and Pitheciidae; Trypanoxyuris (Hapaloxyuris) Inglis &Cosgrove, 1965 with four species described from Callitrichinae;Trypanoxyuris (Paraoxyuronema) Artigas, 1936 with four species from Atelidae; andTrypanoxyuris (Rodentoxyuris) Quentin &Tenora, 1974 with two species found in rodents of the family Sciuridae in North America and Europe (HUGOT et al., 1996; HUGOT, 1999).

In Brazil, Trypanoxyuris spp. have been reported in non-human primates since the first quarter of the twentieth century, and six species of these parasites were already confirmed parasitizing 10 species of hosts: (1)Trypanoxyuris (Paraoxyuronema)brachytelesi (Artigas, 1936) described from Brachyteles arachnoides (É. Geoffroy, 1806) (Primates: Atelidae); (2) T. (H.) callithricis(Solomon, 1933) reported in Callithrix (Callithrix)jacchus (Linnaeus, 1758) (Primates: Cebidae); (3)T. (T.) clementinae Hugot, 1985 described from Sapajus apella (Linnaeus, 1758) (Primates: Cebidae); (4) T.(T.) microon (Linstow, 1907) found inAotus trivirgatus (Humboldt, 1811) (Primates: Aotidae); (5)T. (T.) minutus (Schneider, 1866) reported in Alouatta caraya (Humboldt, 1812) (Primates, Atelidae),A. guariba clamitans Cabrera, 1940, Ateles paniscus (Linnaeus, 1758), A. belzebul (Linnaeus, 1758),A. fusca (É. Geoffroy, 1812) and Saimiri sciureus(Linnaeus, 1758) (Primates: Cebidae), and (6) T. (T.)sceleratus (Travassos, 1925) described from S. sciureus (TRAVASSOS, 1925; ARTIGAS, 1936; HUGOT, 1984, 1985; VICENTE et al., 1997; VALENÇA et al., 2000; AMATO et al., 2002; MARTINS et al., 2008; SOUZA et al., 2010). Moreover, unidentified species of Trypanoxyuris were recorded in A. caraya and S. sciureus (VICENTE et al., 1992) and eggs of these parasites were found in the feces ofAotus azarai infulatus (Kuhl, 1820) (Primates: Aotidae) andA. guariba clamitans (SOUZA JÚNIOR et al., 2008; BARROS MONTEIRO et al., 2009). Despite these previous reports, the amount of species ofTrypanoxyuris that occurs in Brazilian primates may be higher than previously recorded considering the richness of primate species in Brazil and their helminths, which have not been comprehensively studied.

In the present study, a young male specimen of Lagothrix cana(É. Geoffroy, 1812), Gray Woolly Monkey, captured in an uncertain locality in the Brazilian Amazon and kept, at first, at the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA), was sent from São Luís, state of Maranhão, northeast region, to a conservation unit in the municipality of Inhaúma, state of Minas Gerais, southeastern Brazil. After a short period in captivity, the animal died and necropsy was performed. A fecal sample from the specimen was processed by the spontaneous sedimentation method and eggs with morphology suggestive of oxyurids were found.

Nematodes were observed in the large intestine, fixed in 10% formalin and later cleared in lactophenol. They were sexed and mounted in nonpermanent preparation between slide and coverslip and examined by light microscopy. Preparation of en face mounts was performed according to Anderson (1958). Images of the parasites were taken by a Leica microscope and the measures were obtained through the analysis of the images in the Leica Application Suite (EZ LAZ) version 2.0 software, except for the total length of the body, which was measured with a curvimeter after the parasites were drawn with the aid of a camera lucida.

The taxonomic identification was based on morphological criteria preconized by several authors. The generic and subgeneric identifications were performed according toHugot (1985, 1999), and the specific determination was carried out according to Buckley (1931) and Hugot (1985). The measures of 20 specimens (10 males and 10 females) are shown in Table 1; they are presented by the mean followed by standard deviation and range between parentheses. Measures are given in micrometers, except for the length of the body which is given in millimeters. The specimens studied were deposited at the taxonomic collection of the “Laboratório de Taxonomia e Biologia de Invertebrados, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais” (DPIC).

Table 1. Morphometric data of Trypanoxyuris(Paraoxyuronema) lagothricis found inLagothrix cana from Brazil and measures reported by other authors. Measures of T. (P.)brachytelesi previously recorded in Brazil are given for comparison. *Animal which came from South America and died in zoo. L = length, W = width, D = distance, NA = not available. Measures are given in micrometers, except for the length of the body which is given in millimeters. 

Parameters Trypanoxyuris (P.)lagothricis T. (P.)brachytelesi
Present study Buckley (1931) Hugot (1985) Artigas (1936)
Males (n = 10) Females (n = 10) Males (n = NA) Females (n = NA) Females (n = 11) Female (n = 1)
Body L 1.3 ± 0.1 (1.2-1.4) 4.3 ± 0.2 (4.0-4.7) 1.56 5-6 4.1 9.5
W 72 ± 3 (69-79) 309 ± 23 (264-340) 80 300 250 608
Esophagus L 290 ± 29 (241-338) 747 ± 51 (675-837) 350 730 700 756
Esophageal bulb L 59 ± 3 (54-65) 120 ± 5 (112-131) 60 104-112 110 126
W 49 ± 3 (43-53) 114 ± 6 (102-124) 40 80-88 - -
Nerve ring to anterior extremity D 88 ± 6 (82-96) 170 ± 12 (150-198) - 169 140 -
Vulva to anterior extremity D - 1,079 ± 91 (956-1,222) - 1,390-1,676 1,150 1,976
Spicule L 43 ± 2 (40-46) - 44 - - -
Terminal spine L 17 ± 2 (15-20) - 15 - - -
Eggs L - 40 ± 2 (37-43) - 38-40 35 48-51
W - 21 ± 1 (19-23) - 22 17 24-27
Tail L - 1,137 ± 157 (827-1,393) - - 960 2,434
Locality Brazil England* England* Brazil
Host Lagothrix cana Lagothrix lagotricha Lagothrix sp. Brachyteles arachnoides

Taxonomic summary

Trypanoxyuris (Paraoxyuronema)lagothricis (Buckley, 1931) Hugot et al., 1999 (Figure 1, Table 1).

Figure 1.  Trypanoxyuris (Paraoxyuronema)lagothricis found in Lagothrix cana from Brazil. (a-f) female: (a) total view, (b) anterior region, lateral view, (c) apical end, en faceview, (d) anterior region, detail of extremity, ventral view, (e) tail, lateral view; (f) detail of ovejector, lateral view. (g) Egg found in the feces. (h-l) male: (h) total view, (i) posterior region, lateral view, (j) anterior region, ventral view, (k) apical end, en face view, (l) tail, ventral view. 

(Syn.: Enterobius lagothricis Buckley, 1931, Trypanoxyuris(Trypanoxyuris) lagothricis (Buckley, 1931) Inglis &Cosgrove, 1965)

Host: Lagothrix cana (É. Geoffroy, 1812) (Primates, Atelidae), Gray Woolly Monkey.

Locality: Brazilian Amazon, undetermined locality.

Site of infection: large intestine.

Intensity of infection: 64 parasites (17 males, 47 females).

Specimens deposited: DPIC 2467.

Remarks: Trypanoxyuris(Paraoxyuronema) lagothricis was described from a single infected specimen of Lagothrix lagotricha (Humboldt, 1812) (= Lagothrix humboldtii É. Geoffroy, 1812) originated from South America and taken to a London zoo (BUCKLEY, 1931). Later, the species was reported in L. lagotrichain Venezuela and Peru, and in L. cana, also in Peru (INGLIS; Dí AZ-UNGRIA, 1960; INGLIS; DUNN, 1964; HUGOT, 1985; TANTALEAN et al., 1990). This is the first report on the occurrence of this parasite in Brazil. The measures (Table 1) and morphological features of the specimens studied, as well as the structural arrangement of the buccal cavity, the presence of ventral esophageal teeth with a small apical end, and the shape of male bursa and female ovejector are in agreement with those reported for T. (P.)lagothricis by Buckley (1931) and Hugot (1985). In relation to other species of Trypanoxyuris reported in Brazilian primates, T. (P.) lagothricisdiffers from the species belonging to subgenera Hapaloxyuris andTrypanoxyuris by presenting two lips instead of three. Moreover, T. (P.) lagothricispresents measures of both males and females significantly smaller than the five other species from other subgenera previously reported in Brazil. In relation toT. (P.) brachytelesi, a species described based only on female parasites and with buccal structure not studied, T. (P.) lagothricispresents structures also significantly smaller. Regarding other species of the subgenus Paraoxyuronema not yet reported in Brazil,T. (P.) lagothricis can be easily distinguished from T. (P.)duplicidens which presents several larger measures, mainly the length of esophagus, teeth subdivided by a deep groove, and lacks a terminal spine in the male; the species reported in the present study also differ fromT. (P.) atelis in which presents greater total length, and ventral esophageal teeth with a verrucose ornamentation instead a small apical point (HUGOT, 1985).

The clinical manifestations verified in the infection withTrypanoxyuris as well as other pinworm infections are not significant in most cases. Anal itching and irritation, irritability, agitation, and aggressiveness of the host are the clinical signs usually verified during the course of the disease (TOFT II, 1982). However, the occurrence of high parasitic burden and erratic parasitism has been observed and, in some cases, it may be associated with the death of the host (MURATA et al., 2002; AMATO et al., 2002; FOX et al., 2002). In the present study, there was no evidence that infection with T.(P.) lagothricis was associated with the death of the specimen studied. In fact, during the necropsy of the primate, there were no gross changes such as edema, hyperemia, or mucosal lesions of the caecum, colon and rectum of the animal, at least in part, due to low intensity of infection.

Considering the biology of these oxyurids, conditions of captivity and close contact between primates may favor the transmission and maintenance of the parasite (FELT; WHITE, 2005; BARROS MONTEIRO et al., 2009). Indeed,T. (P.) lagothricis was first described and found in animals from zoos (BUCKLEY, 1931; HUGOT, 1985). Similarly, the specimen of L. cana studied was kept for an unknown period of time under illegal captivity before being confiscated.

Under an evolutionary approach, studies of primate oxyurids have provided evidence of the process of coevolution between these parasites and their hosts.Cameron (1929) was the first to find high host specificity in this group of nematodes, suggesting that each species of these parasites would occur in specific groups of primates. Evidence for this phenomenon was subsequently obtained for genera belonging to the subfamily Enterobiinae, including Trypanoxyuris (BROOKS; GLEN, 1982; HUGOT et al., 1996;HUGOT, 1998, 1999).

Given the close evolutionary relationship betweenTrypanoxyuris and their platyrrhine hosts, as well as reports of infection of these primates in other South American countries with species not yet recorded in Brazil, it is possible that the diversity of these oxyurids occurring in the country could be underestimated. In this regard, at least nine other species of Trypanoxyuris, which have already been reported in South American primates, may still be found in Brazil: T.(T.) trypanuris Vevers, 1923 inPithecia spp. (Primates: Pitheciidae); T.(H.) goldii (Inglis &Coosgrove, 1965) inCallimico spp. (Primates: Cebidae); T.(H.) tamarini (Inglis &Dunn, 1964) and T. (H.)oedipi in Saguinus spp. (Primates: Cebidae);T. (P.) atelis (Cameron, 1929) in Ateles spp. (Primates: Atelidae); T. (P.)duplicidens (Buckley, 1931) in Lagothrix spp.; T.(T.) satanas Hugot, 1985 in Chiropotesspp. (Primates: Pitheciidae); T. (T.)croizati Hugot, Morand &Guerrero, 1994 andT. (T.) callicebi Hugot &Vaucher, 1985 in Callicebus spp. (Primates: Cebidae). Moreover, primates belonging to the genera Leontopithecus Lesson, 1840, Cebuella Gray, 1866 (Primates: Cebidae) andCacajao Lesson, 1840 (Primates: Pitheciidae) have not yet been reported infected with Trypanoxyuris (HUGOT, 1999), and they may be hosts of unknown species.

Overall, the study of helminth parasites from primates in Brazil is fragmented. Although the Brazilian primate fauna currently comprises 118 species (PAGLIA et al., 2012), most primate species have not yet been evaluated for infection by parasites. So far, only 27 species of nematodes have been reported in 36 species of primates in the country, and only four nematodes species in primates of the genus Lagothrix(revised by VICENTE et al., 1997; PINTO et al., 2011). On the other hand, the reduction of natural habitats and illegal hunting have contributed to a substantial number of endangered primate species (26) in Brazil (CHIARELLO et al., 2008). In fact, the reduction of populations, and even extinction of hosts, can also be related to the co-extinction of parasite species (WHITEMAN; PARKER, 2005; DOBSON et al., 2008; MUNIZ-PEREIRA et al., 2009). Thus, it is possible that other species of Trypanoxyuris and several other parasitic interactions be eliminated before they become known. In this way, conservation of primate species is important for the maintenance of these parasite species. Furthermore, the scientific interaction between primatologists and helminthologists should be encouraged to maximize achievement on parasitological information, thereby contributing to increase the knowledge on the biodiversity of helminths from primates in Brazil.


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Received: October 16, 2012; Accepted: January 21, 2013

* Corresponding author: Hudson Alves Pinto, Laboratório de Taxonomia e Biologia de Invertebrados, Departamento de Parasitologia, Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais – UFMG, CP 486, CEP 30123-970, Belo Horizonte, MG, Brasil, e-mail:

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