Ascaris suum, an intestinal parasite, produces morphine.

Published

Journal Article

The parasitic worm Ascaris suum contains the opiate alkaloid morphine as determined by HPLC coupled to electrochemical detection and by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. The level of this material is 1168 +/- 278 ng/g worm wet weight. Furthermore, Ascaris maintained for 5 days contained a significant amount of morphine, as did their medium, demonstrating their ability to synthesize the opiate alkaloid. To determine whether the morphine was active, we exposed human monocytes to the material, and they immediately released nitric oxide in a naloxone-reversible manner. The anatomic distribution of morphine immunoreactivity reveals that the material is in the subcuticle layers and in the animals' nerve chords. Furthermore, as determined by RT-PCR, Ascaris does not express the transcript of the neuronal mu receptor. Failure to demonstrate the expression of this opioid receptor, as well as the morphine-like tissue localization in Ascaris, suggests that the endogenous morphine is intended for secretion into the microenvironment.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Goumon, Y; Casares, F; Pryor, S; Ferguson, L; Brownawell, B; Cadet, P; Rialas, CM; Welters, ID; Sonetti, D; Stefano, GB

Published Date

  • July 2000

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 165 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 339 - 343

PubMed ID

  • 10861070

Pubmed Central ID

  • 10861070

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1550-6606

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0022-1767

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.4049/jimmunol.165.1.339

Language

  • eng