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Pathogenesis of reproductive failure induced by Trypanosoma vivax in experimentally infected pregnant ewes

Taciana MF Silva1, Roberio G Olinda1, Carla MF Rodrigues2, Antônio CL Câmara1, Francisco C Lopes1, Wesley AC Coelho1, Múcio FB Ribeiro3, Carlos IA Freitas1, Marta MG Teixeira2 and Jael S Batista1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Animal Sciences, Federal Rural University of the Semiarid (UFERSA), Av. Francisco Mota 572, Mossoró, RN, 59625-900, Brazil

2 Department of Parasitology, Institute of Biological Sciences, University of São Paulo (USP), São Paulo, SP, 05508-900, Brazil

3 Department of Parasitology, Institute of Biological Sciences, Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), Belo Horizonte, MG, 486, Brazil

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Veterinary Research 2013, 44:1  doi:10.1186/1297-9716-44-1

Published: 4 January 2013


The present study was aimed at investigating the effect of experimental infection by Trypanosoma vivax in different stages of pregnancy, determining the pathogenesis of reproductive failure, and confirming transplacental transmission. We used 12 pregnant ewes distributed into four experimental groups: G1, was formed by three ewes infected with T. vivax in the first third of pregnancy (30 days); G2 comprised three infected ewes in the final third of pregnancy (100 days); G3 and G4 were composed of three non-infected ewes with the same gestational period, respectively. Each ewe of G1 and G2 was inoculated with 1.25 × 105 tripomastigotes. Clinical examination, determination of parasitemia, serum biochemistry (albumin, total protein, glucose, cholesterol, and urea), packed cell volume (PCV), serum progesterone, and pathological examination were performed. Placenta, amniotic fluid, blood and tissues from the fetuses and stillbirths were submitted to PCR. Two ewes of G1 (Ewe 1 and 3) presented severe infection and died in the 34th and 35th days post-infection (dpi), respectively; but both fetuses were recovered during necropsy. In G2, Ewe 5 aborted two fetuses on the 130th day (30 dpi) of pregnancy; and Ewe 6 aborted one fetus in the 140th day (40 dpi) of gestation. Ewes 2 and 4 delivered two weak lambs that died five days after birth. Factors possibly involved with the reproductive failure included high parasitemia, fever, low PCV, body score, serum glucose, total protein, cholesterol, and progesterone. Hepatitis, pericarditis, and encephalitis were observed in the aborted fetuses. The presence of T. vivax DNA in the placenta, amniotic fluid, blood, and tissues from the fetuses confirms the transplacental transmission of the parasite. Histological lesion in the fetuses and placenta also suggest the involvement of the parasite in the etiopathogenesis of reproductive failure in ewes.