Antigenic variation of Giardia lamblia in vivo

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Infection and Immunity






A single Giardia lamblia trophozoite can give rise in vitro to G. lamblia with varying surface antigens. To determine whether antigenic variation also occurs in vivo, gerbils were inoculated with defined G. lamblia clones and the surface antigens of the intestinal trophozoites were studied at different times during the infection. The proportion of monoclonal antibody 6E7-reacting trophozoites from WB C1-6E7S-inoculated gerbils had decreased significantly by day 3 postinoculation, indicating the presence of a heterogenous population. On day 7, the 170-kilodalton antigen was no longer present and was replaced by a variety of antigens, including a major protein of 92 kilodaltons. With the exception of isolates from gerbils inoculated with WB A6-6E7S, the banding patterns of G. lamblia isolated from gerbils on day 7 or later were the same regardless of the clones used for inoculation. These studies show that G. lamblia changes its surface antigen(s) in vivo within 7 days following inoculation and appears to maintain the same set of surface antigens during the course of infection.

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