Expression of nine metacyclic variable antigen types (M-VATs) of Trypanosoma congolense in chancres from infected rabbits was determined using monoclonal antibodies raised against metacyclic forms of trypanosomes. Trypanosomes present in chancres 7–9 days post infection expressed M-VATs present in metacyclic populations of the parasites. The majority of M-VATs expressed showed little proportional change from those observed on metacyclic trypanosomes during this period although expression of one M-VAT icnreased, and another decreased. Although trypanosomes in chancres continued to express M-VATs, other VATs, not present in the M-VAT repertoire were also expressed and neutralization tests showed that new VATs appeared by 7 days after infection. In infected sheep neutralizing antibodies against M-VATs were detected by day 14 in lymph from efferent lymphatics draining lymph nodes in the region of chancres. Neutralizing antibodies directed against metacyclics were also present in the serum by day 14 and were still detectable for up to 35 days post infection. Hence, it is likely that in the vertebrate host the trypanosomes multiplying in the skin at the site of tsetse bite express all M-VATs characteristic of that particular serodeme, enabling the host to develop immunity to all antigen types present in the M-VAT repertoire.
Luckins, A.G.; Hopkins, J.; Rae, P.F.; Ross, C.A. Stability of metacyclic variable antigen types (M-VATs) during the early stages of infection with Trypanosoma congolense. Acta Tropica (1990) 47 (3) 129-136. [DOI: 10.1016/0001-706X(90)90018-U]