Limitation ofTrypanosoma bruceiparasitaemia results from density-dependent parasite differentiation and parasite killing by the host immune response Journal Articles uri icon

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  • In the bloodstream of its mammalian host, the "slender" form of Trypanosoma brucei replicates extracellularly, producing a parasitaemia. At high density, the level of parasitaemia is limited at a sublethal level by differentiation to the non-replicative "stumpy" form and by the host immune response. Here, we derive continuous time equations to model the time-course, cell types and level of trypanosome parasitaemia, and compare the best fits with experimental data. The best fits that were obtained favour a model in which both density-dependent trypanosome differentiation and host immune response have a role in limiting the increase of parasites, much poorer fits being obtained when differentiation and immune response are considered independently of one another. Best fits also favour a model in which the slender-to-stumpy differentiation progresses in a manner that is essentially independent of the cell cycle. Finally, these models also make the prediction that the density-dependent trypanosome differentiation mechanism can give rise to oscillations in parasitaemia level. These oscillations are independent of the immune system and are not due to antigenic variation.


  • Tyler, Kevin M
  • Higgs, Paul
  • Matthews, Keith R
  • Gull, Keith

publication date

  • November 7, 2001