Trichuris comes from the Greek tricho, meaning hair and oura, meaning tail. Trichuris trichiura (T. trichiura), common name, whipworm. I gather the name refers to the shape of its hair-like anterior.
My quick note:
Trichuris trichiura (T. trichiura), aka, whipworm.
Trichuriasis, aka, whipworm infection aka a neglected tropical disease.
I particularly enjoy drawing the linear, yet sinuous T. trichiura. ↓
I’ve introduced you to Dr. María Adelaida Duque, who enjoys her work with the biological pathogen. The focus of my current research is on understanding the interactions between the parasitic nematode Trichuris trichiura and the intestinal epithelia, their host cells. T. trichiura is an animal from the phylum nematoda. Maria reminds me, we can get infected with this parasite when we ingest eggs present in contaminated food or water.
Two questions direct Maria’s current work:
How does the larvae reach the bottom of the crypt and invade the epithelia?
What are the interactions between larvae and cells promoting this process?
When the larva is liberated, it infects the bottom of the crypts of the intestinal epithelia and creates tunnels inside them: it is a multi-intracellular parasite! One L1 larva (100um) infects about 40-50 cells in one tunnel.
In the tunnels, the larva moults 4 times, growing and shedding their cuticle with each moult, until they become adult worms, either female and male (about 3-5cm), which mate and produce eggs that are liberated in the faeces, thus completing the life cycle.
Eggs hatch in the cecum/proximal colon and larvae immediately infect the cells of the epithelium in there.
Do they move through any other organs in the body before heading back to the lumen?
How do they make there way and know where to land? What directs them? Is it chemistry? temperature? (I think this might be Maria’s question too.)
About the art: I especially like the active mark-making this cross section ↑ of the cecum allows.
You are looking at contents in the area where the large intestine begin. The center space is called the lumen (Latin for light). It appears like empty space but it is not. Use your imagination…the lumen holds/transports all sort of interesting things. (Is this chyme?)
My notes and stuff that goes on in my head as I paint:
Intra-multicellular parasite (influences black background and palette), you live and reproduce in/and/or outside of host cells. You produce and liberate 5000 eggs per day (yikes!) into the lumen of your host’s gut which eventually exit and drop into a new environment (soil). With support of warmth, moisture and week’s time, your eggs embryonate.
Ingestion of your now developing eggs leads to infection/s as they enter a new gut where a new generation of you burrow in fresh gut lining, molt x4, mature and if allowed, repeat the cycle of the parasites that came before them and you.
(I know this is a long run-on sentenced paragraph. Like I said… it’s the way my brain works when I paint.)
Soil-transmitted helminths (T. trichiura)
you cause disease (Trichuriasis).
Is there is treatment for this worm infection? Yes, Maria says, but it is not efficient and often we cannot eradicate the infection. That is why we need new drugs and to find a vaccine.
Continued success in your research and public engagement work → Dr. María Adelaida Duque.
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