We have previously demonstrated that during pregnancy there exists an increased parasiticide activity against Trichinella spiralis newborn larvae (NBL) in infected rats. In this work we analysed the contribution of peritoneal cells from non-infected pregnant rats to the mortality of the NBL in cytotoxicity assays, and evaluated the role of progesterone in this effector mechanism. Our findings suggest that progesterone can induce activation of effector peritoneal cells to destroy the NBL in a rapid and antibody-independent manner. The administration of progesterone to ovariectomized rats also led to a significant decrease in the parasite load of the animals, thus demonstrating that progesterone induces the increase of the parasiticide activity of the leukocytes involved in the mechanisms of NBL death.
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