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Morphological characterization of Cryptosporidium parvum life-cycle stages in an in vitro model system

  • H. BOROWSKI (a1), R. C. A. THOMPSON (a1), T. ARMSTRONG (a1) and P. L. CLODE (a2)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 20 August 2009

Cryptosporidium parvum is a zoonotic protozoan parasite that mainly affects the ileum of humans and livestock, with the potential to cause severe enteric disease. We describe the complete life cycle of C. parvum in an in vitro system. Infected cultures of the human ileocecal epithelial cell line (HCT-8) were observed over time using electron microscopy. Additional data are presented on the morphology, development and behavioural characteristics of the different life-cycle stages as well as determining their time of occurrence after inoculation. Numerous stages of C. parvum and their behaviour have been visualized and morphologically characterized for the first time using scanning electron microscopy. Further, parasite-host interactions and the effect of C. parvum on host cells were also visualized. An improved understanding of the parasite's biology, proliferation and interactions with host cells will aid in the development of treatments for the disease.

Corresponding author
*Corresponding author: WHO Collaborating Centre for the Molecular Epidemiology of Parasitic Infections, Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Murdoch University, South Street, Murdoch, WA 6150, Australia. Tel: +(08) 9360 2466. Fax: +(08) 9360 6285. E-mail:
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