Induction of permeability changes and death of vertebrate cells is modulated by the virulence of Entamoeba spp. isolates

James A. Dvorak, Seiki Kobayashi, Tomoyoshi Nozaki, Tsutomu Takeuchi, Chizuko Matsubara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Although Entamoeba histolytica is capable of inducing an apoptotic response in vertebrate cells in vitro (Cell. Microbiol. 2 (2000) 617), it is not known whether vertebrate cell death requires direct amoeba-vertebrate cell contact or simply the presence of amoebae in the area of the vertebrate cells. In addition, Entamoeba spp. vary in their virulence and pathogenicity. The potential effects of these critical parameters also have not been elucidated. We tested the virulent HM-1:IMSS isolate and the non-virulent Rahman isolate of E. histolytica, and the non-virulent E. dispar CYNO16:TPC isolate against two vertebrate cell lines, HeLa and Chinese hamster ovary cells in vitro using ethidium homodimer as a fluorescent indicator of changes in vertebrate cell permeability. Fluorescence appeared in vertebrate cell nuclei within approximately 2-3 min of contact between HM-1 amoebae and vertebrate cells independent of vertebrate cell type. However, vertebrate cells in the immediate vicinity of but not contacted by HM-1 amoebae were not affected. In contrast, although both E. histolytica Rahman and E. dispar CYNO16 amoebae moved freely among and contacted vertebrate cells, the nuclei of the vertebrate cells never fluoresced implying that the cells remained alive and impermeant to the ethidium homodimer. This is the first demonstration that direct contact between virulent amoebae and vertebrate cells is required to kill vertebrate cells and that the process is restricted to virulent Entamoeba isolates. An understanding at the molecular level of the processes involved could help to reduce the pathology associated with this parasite.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-173
Number of pages5
JournalParasitology International
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2003 Jun


  • Cell death
  • E. dispar
  • Entamoeba histolytica
  • Ethidium homodimer
  • Vertebrate cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases


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