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Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz

Print version ISSN 0074-0276On-line version ISSN 1678-8060

Mem. Inst. Oswaldo Cruz vol.89 no.1 Rio de Janeiro Jan./Mar. 1994 

Trypanosoma cruzi infection in the opossum Didelphis marsupialis: absence of neonatal transmission and protection by maternal antibodies in experimental infections

Ana M. Jansen

Fatima B. Madeira1 

Maria P. Deane1 

Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, Departamento de Protozoologia, Laboratório de Biologia Tripanosomatídeos, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil


The high rate of natural Trypanosoma cruzi infection found in opossums does not always correlate with appreciable densities of local triatomid populations. One alternative method which might bypass the invertebrate vector is direct transmission from mother to offspring. This possibility was investigated in five T. cruzi infected females and their litters (24 young). The influence of maternal antibodies transferred via lactation, on the course of experimental infection, was also examined. Our results show that neonatal transmission is probably not responsible for the high rate of natural T. cruzi infection among opossums. In addition antibodies of maternal origin confer a partial protection to the young. This was demonstrated by the finding of a double prepatency period and 4,5 fold lower levels of circulating parasites, in experimentally infected pouch young from infected as compared to control uninfected mothes. On the other hand, the duration of patent parasitemia was twice as long as that observed in the control group.


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