Schistosoma mansoni, one of the causative agents of human schistosomiasis, has a unique antioxidant network that is key to parasite survival and a valuable chemotherapeutic target. The ability to detoxify and tolerate reactive oxygen species increases along S. mansoni development in the vertebrate host, suggesting that adult parasites are more exposed to redox challenges than young stages. Indeed, adult parasites are exposed to multiple redox insults generated from blood digestion, activated immune cells, and, potentially, from their own parasitic aerobic metabolism. However, it remains unknown how reactive oxygen species are produced by S. mansoni metabolism, as well as their biological effects on adult worms. Here, we assessed the contribution of nutrients and parasite gender to oxygen utilization pathways, and reactive oxygen species generation in whole unpaired adult S. mansoni worms. We also determined the susceptibilities of both parasite sexes to a pro-oxidant challenge. We observed that glutamine and serum importantly contribute to both respiratory and non-respiratory oxygen utilization in adult worms, but with different proportions among parasite sexes. Analyses of oxygen utilization pathways revealed that respiratory rates were high in male worms, which contrast with high non-respiratory rates in females, regardless nutritional sources. Interestingly, mitochondrial complex I-III activity was higher than complex IV specifically in females. We also observed sexual preferences in substrate utilization to sustain hydrogen peroxide production towards glucose in females, and glutamine in male worms. Despite strikingly high oxidant levels and hydrogen peroxide production rates, female worms were more resistant to a pro-oxidant challenge than male parasites. The data presented here indicate that sexual preferences in nutrient metabolism in adult S. mansoni worms regulate oxygen utilization and reactive oxygen species production, which may differently contribute to redox biology among parasite sexes.
Oliveira, M. P., Correa Soares, J. B. R., & Oliveira, M. F. (2016). Sexual preferences in nutrient utilization regulate oxygen consumption and reactive oxygen species generation in Schistosoma mansoni: Potential implications for parasite redox biology. PLoS ONE, 11(7). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0158429