This chapter describes how schistosomes profit from stress responses they elicit in their hosts. The complex life cycle of trematodes comprises at least two hosts—that is, one or more intermediate hosts and a definitive host. The parasitic worms that cause schistosomiasis (bilharzia) in man belong to these trematodes (genus Schistosoma). Asexual multiplication occurs in the intermediate hosts (freshwater snails), whereas the parasites reach sexual maturity in the definitive hosts (man or other mammals). The major problems which schistosomes have to overcome during their life cycle are (1) they have to find compatible hosts to penetrate their skin and tissue, (2) they have to adapt to environmental stress induced by changes of physicochemical factors, (3) they have to evade immune attacks in their hosts, and (4) they have to obtain energy and space within their hosts to grow and reproduce prior to transmission. Apart from mechanical damage, interference of schistosomes with regulatory mechanisms in their host has to be mediated by parasite components of the parasite–host interface exposed to elements of these regulatory systems or by products secreted into the host. © 1995, Academic Press Inc.
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