Collections > UNC Scholarly Publications > BioMed Central > Role of the long slender to short stumpy transition in the life cycle of the african trypanosomes

Abstract It is shown using mouse models that the African trypanosomes exert a significant drain upon their host's carbohydrate (energy) resources; and that the higher the parasitemia, the greater the energy demand. It is, therefore, hypothesized that the long slender (LS) to short stumpy (SS) transition evolved, in part, to help control the parasitemia and to increase host survival time. It is also suggested that the SS population is heterogeneous. One part of the population is tsetse infective, while a second older SS population is undergoing apoptotic-like events, which leads to their cell death and their stimulation of the host's immune response. This immune stimulation by the old dying SS forms would eliminate the major LS and SS variant antigen population, and produce the chronic relapsing infection. It is concluded that the SS stages during the apoptosis-like process are acting altruistically. They give their lives to insure the long-term survival of the host, and to insure renewed growth of the minor LS variants and new infective SS forms. This process is predicted to increase the probability for the successful transmission of the trypanosomes to a new host.