Cryptosporidia are obligate intracellular protozoa (single-celled organisms) from the phylum Apicomplexa. There is currently no sufficiently efficient therapeutic agent for cryptosporidiosis. The infectious oocysts have a high tenacity in the environment. For these reasons, the study of the life cycle and the mechanisms of pathogenicity as well as the search for active agents is necessary.

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Heine-Färbung Kryptosporidien, Foto: Ivette Holzhausen

Changes in glucose metabolism caused by C. parvum in newborn calves

Cryptosporidia parasitise in the intestinal tract of the host intracellularly but extracytoplasmically within a parasitophorous vacuole. Due to the absence of some important synthesis and metabolic processes, these protozoa are dependent on the host for nutrients. Our own in vitro studies in cells infected with cryptosporidia showed changes in glucose transport. These results are to be evaluated in the form of this project with regard to their transferability to the in vivo situation in the calf.


Studies on the prevalence of Cryptosporidium spp. and Giardia duodenalis in young dogs in central Germany

Young dogs (≤1 year) are often infested with parasites, which not infrequently lead to diarrhoeal diseases. In particular, the two protozoa Giarida duodenalis and Cryptosporidium spp. show a high prevalence in this age group and can lead to severe symptoms. Knowledge, especially about cryptosporidia in dogs in Germany, is currently still limited. In addition to the clinical significance for dogs, the protozoa can also serve as a source of infection for humans.

The aim is to gather new knowledge about the occurrence of parasites in dogs during their first year of life and to analyse the zoonotic potential of the pathogens using molecular biological methods (PCR).


Establishment of an in vitro model for co-infection with Cryptosporidium parvum and Giardia intestinalis

Cryptosporidium parvum is one of the most common causes of diarrhoea in calves and Giardia intestinalis infections have also been detected in the livestock sector, especially in calves. In addition, infections with both pathogens can occur in the calf. It has not yet been sufficiently investigated what effects such co-infections have on the clinic of the individual diseases, but studies on co-infections of cryptosporidia with other bacterial and viral diarrhoeal pathogens suggest an intensification of the diarrhoea problem with simultaneous infection with Giardia intestinalis. The aim is to establish an in vitro coinfection model with a cell line (IPEC-J2) isolated from the jejunum of neonatal piglets to investigate pathophysiological effects and parasite-parasite or pathogen-host interactions.


Characterizing putative virulence factor genes of Cryptosporidium parvum through genotypic analysis of field isolates and through generation and phenotypic characterization of transgenic parasites of these genes

Die Kryptosporidiose gehört sowohl bei Menschen als auch bei Tieren aufgrund besonderer Eigenschaften des Erregers zu den schwer zu bekämpfenden Krankheiten. Um neue Ansatzpunkte für prophylaktische und akute Therapien zu finden ist es notwendig, die Biologie und molekulare Mechanismen dieses einzelligen Parasiten besser zu verstehen. Zu diesem Zweck arbeiten wir an verschiedenen Modellen des genetischen Kock-outs bzw. dem Markieren von bestimmten Genabschnitten in Kryptosporidien, die putativ an dessen Virulenz beteiligt sind.


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