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AREVALO, Adriana; DUQUE, Sofía  and  NICHOLLS, Rubén Santiago. Experimental infection of the gerbil ( Meriones unguiculatus) by Colombian isolates of Giardia duodenalis. Biomédica [online]. 2005, vol.25, n.3, pp.305-314. ISSN 0120-4157.

Introduction. Natural and experimental Giardia infections have been reported from bovines, equines, goats, canines, felines and rodents such as mice, rats and gerbils. The latter have provided successful animal models for Giardia duodenalis and Giardia muris experimental infections. Objective. The gerbil model was used to establish the pattern of infection of Colombian Giardia human isolates. Materials and methods. Giardia cysts were obtained from stool specimens of symptomatic giardiasis patients by means of sucrose-percoll gradients. Animal inoculation was performed by gastric intubation and injection with 5x103 Giardia cysts. The course of infection was established by counting cysts every day and trophozoites weekly throughout a period of 30 days. Results. The pattern of cyst excretion was found to be intermittent. Cysts were released during the second and third weeks of infection but not during the first or fourth weeks. The mean minimal number of cysts released per 2-hr collection period was 79 and the mean maximum number was 17,943. Colonization of the small intestine by trophozoites was observed with a mean number ranging from 15,000 to 6,577,778 trophozoites/ml. Discussion and conclusions. Gerbils inoculated with G. duodenalis isolates obtained from geographical areas outside Colombia resolved the infection between 86 and 114 days after infection, whereas gerbils infected with Colombian G. duodenalis isolates resolved the infection at 30 days. The gerbil proved to be a good animal model for experimental infection with Colombian isolates of G. duodenalis. Experimental Giardia infection of gerbils permit a sufficient yield of cysts and trophozoites to be used as antigens for the immunization of other animals and to obtain Giardia antibodies that could be used for Giardia antigen detection assays in stool specimens.

Keywords : Giardia, gerbil; Meriones unguiculatus; infection; cyst; trophozoite.

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