Demonstration of erythrophagocytosis in Trypanosoma congolense-infected goats

William Harold Witola, Cheryl E.A. Lovelace

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Anaemia is the most prominent clinical sign of trypanosomosis in domestic animals but little is known about its pathogenesis. This work investigated erythrophagocytosis as the possible cause of anaemia. Pathogenic Trypanosoma congolense (IL3000) was intravenously inoculated into six goats at 3 × 106 trypanosomes per goat. Six other goats were maintained as controls. The infection was studied for 10 weeks and parasitaemia, packed cell volume (PCV) and serum protein levels were determined. The amount of erythrophagocytosis was determined from the amount of 51Cr-labelled red blood cells (RBCs) phagocytosed by self mononuclear cells (MNCs) in vitro and by microscopically counting phagocytosed RBCs on Giemsa stained smears of incubated mixtures of RBCs and self MNCs. The infection resulted in trypanosomosis with rapid progressive anaemia and mean peaks of parasitaemia of about 3 × 103ml-1. In infected goats, a significant (P < 0.05) mean reduction in PCV (of 37-22%) was observed starting from about 20 days up to 56 days post-infection. Within this same phase, significant (P < 0.05) differences in mean radioactivity counts of 51Cr incorporated into MNCs were observed with infected goats' samples having counts 50% higher than the control goats' samples. Microscopically, the mean number of phagocytosed RBCs in infected goats' MNCs was noted to be 80% higher (P < 0.05) than that of control goats. Appreciable increases (P < 0.05) in mean serum globulin levels, from 3.5 to 4.7g/dl, were observed within 3 weeks of infection. The study showed that erythrophagocytosis is an important mechanism leading to anaemia in the pathophysiology of T. congolense infection in Zambian goats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-126
Number of pages12
JournalVeterinary parasitology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 20 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Anaemia
  • Erythrophagocytosis
  • Trypanosoma congolense

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • veterinary(all)


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