Differential Host Antibody Targeting of Male and Female Gastric Parasites

Open Access
Author:
Huddart, Sophie Katrina
Area of Honors:
Immunology and Infectious Disease
Degree:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Isabella Cattadori, Thesis Supervisor
  • Pamela Hankey, Honors Advisor
Keywords:
  • parasite
  • sex bias
  • fecundity
  • gastric parasites
Abstract:
Parasites continue to pose a significant threat to human health around the world. The key to new and improved treatments is to improve our understanding of the interaction between parasite and host. This study examines the immune response of the European rabbit, Oryctolagus cuniculus to the gastric helminth, Graphidium strigosum. Host antibody response intensity to male and female parasite antigens was measured and the relative strengths of these sex-specific responses were compared. It was found that during certain points of the infection, female worms were disproportionately targeted by the host immune response. This targeting of female worms was found to correlate significantly with decreased female worm length and fecundity. These results indicate that the host immune system sees the parasites not as a homogenous population but as two distinct subpopulations of males and females.