Resistance in Fasciola hepatica to triclabendazole (Fasinex) has emerged in several countries. Benzimidazole resistance in parasitic nematodes has been linked to a single amino acid substitution (phenylalanine to tyrosine) at position 200 on the [beta]-tubulin molecule. Sequencing of [beta]-tubulin cDNAs from triclabendazole-susceptible and triclabendazole-resistant flukes revealed no amino acid differences between their respective primary amino acid sequences. In order to investigate the mechanism of triclabendazole resistance, triclabendazole-susceptible and triclabendazole-resistant flukes were incubated in vitro with triclabendazole sulphoxide (50 [mu]g/ml). Scanning and transmission electron microscopy revealed extensive damage to the tegument of triclabendazole-susceptible F. hepatica, whereas triclabendazole-resistant flukes showed only localized and relatively minor disruption of the tegument covering the spines. Immunocytochemical studies, using an anti-tubulin antibody, showed that tubulin organization was disrupted in the tegument of triclabendazole-susceptible flukes. No such disruption was evident in triclabendazole-resistant F. hepatica. The significance of these findings is discussed with regard to the mechanism of triclabendazole resistance in F. hepatica.
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