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    Jannasch, M. Groeber, F. Brattig, N.W. Unger, C. Walles, H. and Hansmann, J. 2015. Development and application of three-dimensional skin equivalents for the investigation of percutaneous worm invasion. Experimental Parasitology, Vol. 150, p. 22.

    WANG, TING FANG, ZHENG-MING LEI, JIA-HUI GUAN, FEI LIU, WEN-QI BARTLETT, ANN WHITFIELD, PHIL and LI, YONG-LONG 2012. Delayed tail loss during the invasion of mouse skin by cercariae of Schistosoma japonicum. Parasitology, Vol. 139, Issue. 02, p. 244.

    Haas, Wilfried and Haeberlein, Simone 2009. Penetration of cercariae into the living human skin: Schistosoma mansoni vs. Trichobilharzia szidati. Parasitology Research, Vol. 105, Issue. 4, p. 1061.

    Kusel, John R. McVeigh, Paul and Thornhill, Joyce A. 2009. The schistosome excretory system: a key to regulation of metabolism, drug excretion and host interaction. Trends in Parasitology, Vol. 25, Issue. 8, p. 353.

    KUSEL, J. R. AL-ADHAMI, B. H. and DOENHOFF, M. J. 2007. The schistosome in the mammalian host: understanding the mechanisms of adaptation. Parasitology, Vol. 134, Issue. 11,

    Wang, Wenshi Kirschfink, Michael and Ruppel, Andreas 2006. Schistosoma japonicum and S. mansoni cercariae: different effects of protein in medium, of mechanical stress, and of an intact complement system on in vitro transformation to schistosomula. Parasitology Research, Vol. 99, Issue. 3, p. 269.

    Wang, Lin Li, Yong-Long Fishelson, Zvi Kusel, John R. and Ruppel, Andreas 2005. Schistosoma japonicum migration through mouse skin compared histologically and immunologically with S. mansoni. Parasitology Research, Vol. 95, Issue. 3, p. 218.


Delayed tail loss during the invasion of human skin by schistosome cercariae

  • P. J. WHITFIELD (a1), A. BARTLETT (a1), N. KHAMMO (a2), A. P. R. BRAIN (a1), M. B. BROWN (a1), C. MARRIOTT (a1) and R. CLOTHIER (a2)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 April 2003

Schistosomiasis is initiated when cercarial larvae invade human skin. Contrary to long-held assumptions, most cercariae of Schistosoma mansoni do not shed their propulsive tails as they penetrate. Scanning electron microscopy studies and infection experiments with entire human skin and differentiated, stratum corneum-like, human keratinocyte cultures, have shown that most cercarial tails enter the skin along with their bodies. We propose that this behaviour is an adaptive trait linked with concomitant immunity.

Corresponding author
School of Health and Life Sciences, King's College London, 150 Stamford Street, London SE1 9NN. Tel: +0207 848 4646. E-mail:
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  • ISSN: 0031-1820
  • EISSN: 1469-8161
  • URL: /core/journals/parasitology
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