Apoptosis phenomenon in the schistosomulum and adult worm life cycle stages of Schistosoma japonicum

Hongxiao Han, Jinbiao Peng, Geoffrey N. Gobert, Yang Hong, Min Zhang, Yanhui Han, Zhiqiang Fu, Yaojun Shi, Jinjun Xu, Jiaojiao Lin*, Jianping Tao

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Apoptosis is an important aspect of a number of biological processes, from embryogenesis to the stress-injury response. It plays a central role in balancing cell proliferation and tissue remodeling activity in many organisms. In the present study, apoptosis in 14. days post infection schistosomula was evaluated using TUNEL (terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick-end labeling) assays and DAPI staining. Additionally, flow cytometry using the Annexin V-FITC/propidium iodide (PI) (Annexin V/PI) assay confirmed the percentage of early apoptotic, late apoptotic, and necrotic cells in 14 and 23. days post infection worms. Conserved Domain Database (CDD) BLAST analysis and alignment analysis of known schistosome proteins demonstrated the feasibility of detecting the activity of caspase-3 and -7 using the caspase-3/7 Glo analysis assay. Analysis of caspase-3 and -7 activities in schistosome demonstrated that both caspases were active in each developmental stage of Schistosoma japonicum, but was highest in the 14. days post infection schistosomula. Additionally, the caspase peptide inhibitor (Z-VAD-FMK) inhibited the caspase-3/7 activity at all developmental stages examined. Therefore, we hypothesized that two main signaling pathways are involved in apoptosis in S. japonicum, the caspase cascade and the mitochondrial-initiated pathway. We have constructed a model of these two pathways, including how they may interact and their biological outcomes. qRT-PCR analyses of the gene expression profiles of apoptosis-related genes supported our hypothesis of the relationship between the apoptotic pathway and parasite development. The data presented here demonstrates that apoptosis is an important biological process for the survival and development of the schistosome, and identifies potential novel therapeutic targets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100-108
Number of pages9
JournalParasitology International
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Apoptosis
  • Schistosoma japonicum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases

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