, Volume 169, Issue 3, pp 323-334

An electron microscopic study of Babesia microti invading erythrocytes

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Intracellular sporozoan parasites invade the host cell through the invagination of the plasma membrane of the host and a vacuole is formed which accommodates the entering parasite. The vacuole may disappear and the invaginated membrane of the host then becomes closely apposed to that of the parasite's own membrane. As a result the parasite is covered by two membranes. Members of the class Piroplasmea differ from other Sporozoa in that their trophozoites are covered by a single membrane. By screening numerous sections of intraerythrocytic Babesia microti belonging to the class Piroplasmea, it was found that merozoites of Babesia enter the erythrocytes of hamsters in the same way as those of other Sporozoa. When a merozoite touches the red blood cell with its anterior end it becomes attached to the membrane of the host, which starts to invaginate and a parasitophorous vacuole is formed. The vacuolar space disappears rapidly and the membrane of the vacuole and that of the parasite become closely adjacent. At this stage the parasite is surrounded by two plasma membranes. The outer membrane derived from the invaginated host membrane disintegrates quickly and the parasite is left with a single membrane throughout its life span.

Supported by Grant AI 08989 from the U.S. Public Health Service. The excellent technical assistance of Ms. Renata Klatt is gratefully acknowledged