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Encephalitozoon intestinalis Infection Impacts the Expression of Apoptosis-Related Genes in U937 Macrophage Cells



Encephalitozoon intestinalis affects many physiological processes of host cells to survive, proliferate, and spread to different regions within the body. In this study, the effects of the parasite on host cell apoptosis and proliferation were investigated.


To determine the impact of the parasite on the host cell apoptosis, changes in the expression profile of genes were investigated with the qPCR array using the Human Apoptosis Panel in infected and non-infected macrophage cells. Also, the rate of apoptosis in the cells was determined by Giemsa staining method. Cell proliferation was determined by measuring the DNA concentration in infected and non-infected cells.


The thirty-six of apoptosis-related genes were down-regulated, while 20 of apoptosis-related genes were up-regulated in infected cells compared to uninfected cells. However, there were no significant changes detected in 32 analyzed genes between infected and control groups. E. intestinalis was determined to decrease cell proliferation in U937 macrophage cells. Unexpectedly, Giemsa staining showed an increase in the rate of apoptosis in infected cells.


Regulated genes after infection are involved in many different biological pathways and various components of the cell. This suggests that the parasite uses highly sophisticated ways to maintain the viability of the cell.

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This study was financially supported by the Erciyes University Scientific Research Projects Unit, Kayseri, Turkey (No. TCD-2016-7042).

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Authors and Affiliations



UC, AC and ME designed the study and made the critical revision of the article. UC and MS performed the in vitro experiment. Collecting test data, drafting the article and getting a final approval of the version to be published were done by UC, ME and AC, as well as data analysis and interpretation was done by AC. In addition, UC and ME were responsible for supervision, and project administration.

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Correspondence to Ülfet Çetinkaya.

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Çetinkaya, Ü., Caner, A., Charyyeva, A. et al. Encephalitozoon intestinalis Infection Impacts the Expression of Apoptosis-Related Genes in U937 Macrophage Cells. Acta Parasit. 66, 397–405 (2021).

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  • Parasites
  • Microsporidia
  • Apoptosis
  • Gene
  • Human macrophage
  • Cell proliferation