Submitted to: Society of Protozoologists Meeting
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/27/1999
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Cryptosporidium parvum is a protozoan parasite that infects intestinal epithelium of many species of mammals. Susceptibility to infection is at least partly age-related. In several host species, acquisition of resistance to C. parvum infection coincides with weaning, development of mature intestinal flora, and maturation of intestinal epithelium. These maturational changes include altered expression of intestinal enzymes and an increased rate of epithelial cell turnover. We have found that the expression of the intestinal enzymes, lactase and sucrase, is altered during C. parvum infection. In mice infected with C. parvum at one week of age, and tested for enzyme function at 2 weeks of age, sucrase was increased and lactase decreased compared to mice not infected with the parasite. Coincident with changes in enzyme expression, the rate of intestinal epithelial cell proliferation was doubled in 2-week-old mice infected with C. parvum compared to mice not infected. Thus, infection appears to accelerate the maturation of intestinal epithelial cells to a more mature phenotype. These findings may help explain why young, preweaning animals are more susceptible to infection with C. parvum.