Analysis of Nematode Motion Using an Improved Light-Scatter Based System

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Abstract

BACKGROUND The detailed assessment of nematode activity and viability still remains a relatively undeveloped area of biological and medical research. Computer-based approaches to assessing the motility of larger nematode stages have been developed, yet these lack the capability to detect and analyze the more subtle and important characteristics of the motion of nematodes. There is currently a need to improved methods of assessing the viability and health of parasitic worms. METHODS We describe here a system that converts the motion of nematodes through a light-scattering system into an electrical waveform, and allows for reproducible, and wholly non-subjective, assessment of alterations in motion, as well as estimation of the number of nematode worms of different forms and sizes. Here we have used Brugia sp. microfilariae (L1), infective larvae (L3) and adults, together with the free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. RESULTS The motion of worms in a small (200 ul) volume can be detected, with the presence of immotile worms not interfering with the readings at practical levels (up to at least 500 L1 /200 ul). Alterations in the frequency of parasite movement following the application of the anti-parasitic drugs, (chloroquine and imatinib); the anti-filarial effect of the latter agent is the first demonstrated here for the first time. This system can also be used to estimate the number of parasites, and shortens the time required to estimate parasites numbers, and eliminates the need for microscopes and trained technicians to provide an estimate of microfilarial sample sizes up to 1000 parasites/ml. Alterations in the form of motion of the worms can also be depicted. CONCLUSIONS This new instrument, named a "WiggleTron", offers exciting opportunities to further study nematode biology and to aid drug discovery, as well as contributing to a rapid estimate of parasite numbers in various biological samples.

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Nutting, C. S., Eversole, R. R., Blair, K., Specht, S., Nutman, T. B., Klion, A. D., … Mackenzie, C. D. (2015). Analysis of Nematode Motion Using an Improved Light-Scatter Based System. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 9(2). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0003523

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