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Targeting of Wolbachia endobacteria in Litomosoides sigmodontis: comparison of tetracyclines with chloramphenicol, macrolides and ciprofloxacin

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Endobacteria of the genus Wolbachia in filarial nematodes are related to Rickettsiaceae and can be depleted by tetracycline antibiotics. This depletion blocks female worm development as well as early embryogenesis, in contrast to the currently used microfilaricidal ivermectin which blocks only the last stage of embryogenesis. Since targeting Wolbachia is becoming an area of research for the treatment of human filariases, it was investigated if antibiotics other than tetracyclines are able to deplete Wolbachia from filariae. BALB/c mice infected with the rodent filaria Litomosoides sigmodontis were treated with erythromycin, chloramphenicol or ciprofloxacin. All drugs were well resorbed and resulted in serum levels clearly above breakpoint levels for bacteria susceptible to the respective antibiotic. However, contrary to tetracycline, none of these antibiotics depleted Wolbachia or altered worm development and fertility, as evidenced by immunohistology, immunoelectron microscopy and semiquantitative PCR.
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Keywords: Litomosoides sigmodontis; Wolbachia; chloramphenicol; endobacteria; filariasis; macrolids; tetracycline

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Bernhard Nocht Institute of Tropical Medicine, Hamburg, Germany 2: Max von Pettenkofer Institute, University of Munich, Germany

Publication date: 01 April 2000

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