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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Constitutive and differential expression of transport protein genes in Parascaris univalens larvae and adult tissues after in vitro exposure to anthelmintic drugs

Martin, Frida; Eydal, Matthias; Hoglund, Johan; Tyden, Eva


The equine roundworm Parascaris univalens has developed resistance to the three anthelmintic substances most commonly used in horses. The mechanisms responsible for resistance are believed to be multi-genic, and transport proteins such as the P-glycopmtein (Pgp) family have been suggested to be involved in resistance in several parasites including P. univlaens. To facilitate further research into the mechanisms behind drug metabolism and resistance development in P. univalens we aimed to develop an in vitro model based on larvae. We developed a fast and easy protocol for hatching P. univalens larvae for in vitro studies, resulting in a hatching rate of 92 %. The expression of transport protein genes pgp-2, pgp-9, pgp-11.1, pgp-16.1 and major facilitator superfamily (MFS) genes PgR006_g137 and PgR015_g078 were studied in hatched larvae exposed to the anthelmintic drugs ivermecin (IVM) 10(-9) M, pyrantel citrate (PYR) 10(-6) M and thiabendazole (TBZ) 10(-5) M for 24 h. In comparison, the expression of these transport protein genes was studied in the anterior end and intestinal tissues of adult worms in vitro exposed to IVM, TBZ and PYR, at the same concentrations as larvae, for 3 h, 10 h and 24 h. Larval exposure to sub-lethal doses of IVM for 24 h did not affect the expression levels of any of the investigated genes, however larvae exposed to PYR and TBZ for 24 h showed significantly increased expression of pgp-9. In vitro drug exposure of adult worms did not result in any significant increases in expression of transport protein genes. Comparisons of constitutive expression between larvae and adult worm tissues showed that pgp-9, pgp11.1, pgp-16.1 and MFS gene PgR015_g078 were expressed at lower levels in larvae than in adult tissues, while pgp-2 and MFS gene PgR006_g137 had similar expression levels in larvae and adult worms. All investigated transport protein genes were expressed at higher rates in the intestine than in the anterior end of adult worms, except pgp-11.1 where the expression was similar between the two tissues. This high constitutive expression in the intestine suggests that this is an important site for xenobiotic efflux in P. univalens. Despite the fact that the results of this study show differences in expression of transport protein genes between larvae and adult tissues, we believe that the larval assay system described here will be an important tool for further research into the molecular mechanisms behind anthelmintic resistance development and for other in vitro studies.


Equine; Ivermectin; Hatching; Pyrantel citrate; Thiabendazole

Published in

Veterinary Parasitology
2021, volume: 298, article number: 109535
Publisher: ELSEVIER

Authors' information

Eydal, Matthias
University of Iceland
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Biomedical Science and Veterinary Public Health

UKÄ Subject classification

Clinical Science

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