Efficient and reproducible experimental infections of rats with Blastocystis spp.

Abstract : Although Blastocystis spp. infect probably more than 1 billion people worldwide, their clinical significance is still controversial and their pathophysiology remains poorly understood. In this study, we describe a protocol for an efficient and reproducible model of chronic infection in rats, laying the groundwork for future work to evaluate the pathogenic potential of this parasite. In our experimental conditions, we were unable to infect rats using vacuolar forms of an axenically cultivated ST4 isolate, but we successfully established chronic infections of 4 week-old rats after oral administration of both ST3 and ST4 purified cysts isolated from human stool samples. The infection protocol was also applied to 4 week-old C57BL/9, BALB/C and C3H mice, but any mouse was found to be infected by Blastocystis. Minimal cyst inoculum required for rat infection was higher with ST3 (105) than with ST4 (102). These results were confirmed by co-housing experiments highlighting a higher contagious potential of ST4 in rats compared to ST3. Finally, experiments mimicking fecal microbiota transfer from infected to healthy animals showed that Blastocystis spp. could easily infect a new host, even though its intestinal microbiota is not disturbed. In conclusion, our results provide a well-documented and robust rat model of Blastocystis chronic infection, reproducing "natural" infection. This model will be of great interest to study host parasite interactions and to better evaluate clinical significance of Blastocystis.
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Manon Defaye, Céline Nourrisson, Elodie Baudu, Ivan Warwzyniak, Virginie Bonnin, et al.. Efficient and reproducible experimental infections of rats with Blastocystis spp.. PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2018, 13 (11), pp.1-15. ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0207669⟩. ⟨hal-01931278⟩

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