Feline Tritrichomonas foetus adhere to intestinal epithelium by receptor-ligand-dependent mechanisms. Academic Article uri icon


  • Tritrichomonas foetus (TF) is a protozoan that infects the feline ileum and colon resulting in chronic diarrhea. Up to 30% of young purebred cats are infected with TF and the infection is recognized as pandemic. Only a single drug, characterized by a narrow margin of safety and emerging development of resistance, is effective for treatment. While the venereal pathogenicity of bovine TF is attributed to adherence to uterovaginal epithelium, the pathogenesis of diarrhea in feline TF infection is unknown. The aim of this study was to establish an in vitro model of feline TF adhesion to intestinal epithelium. Confluent monolayers of porcine intestinal epithelial cells (IPEC-J2) were infected with axenic cultures of feline TF that were labeled with [(3)H] thymidine or CFSE and harvested at log-phase. The effect of multiplicity and duration of infection, viability of TF, binding competition, formalin fixation and cytoskeletal inhibitors on adherence of feline TF to IPEC-J2 monolayers was quantified by liquid scintillation counting and immunofluorescence. [(3)H] thymidine and CFSE-labeled TF reproducibly adhered to IPEC-J2 monolayers. Clinical isolates of feline TF adhered to the intestinal epithelium in significantly greater numbers than Pentatrichomonas hominis, the latter of which is a presumably nonpathogenic trichomonad. Adhesion of TF required viable trophozoites but was independent of cytoskeletal activity. Based on saturation and competition binding experiments, adherence of feline TF to the epithelium occurred via specific receptor-ligand interactions. The developed model provides a valuable resource for assessing pathogenic mechanisms of feline TF and developing novel pharmacologic therapies for blocking the adhesion of feline TF to the intestinal epithelium.

published proceedings

  • Vet Parasitol

altmetric score

  • 0.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Tolbert, M. K., Stauffer, S. H., & Gookin, J. L.

citation count

  • 15

complete list of authors

  • Tolbert, MK||Stauffer, SH||Gookin, JL

publication date

  • January 2013