Journal of Parasitic Diseases

, Volume 33, Issue 1–2, pp 3–12 | Cite as

A review of the complexity of biology of lymphatic filarial parasites

  • K. P. Paily
  • S. L. Hoti
  • P. K. Das
Review Article


There are about five more common, including Wuchereria bancrofti and Brugia malayi, and four less common filarial parasites infecting human. Genetic analysis of W. bancrofti populations in India showed that two strains of the species are prevalent in the country. The adult filarial parasites are tissue specific in the human host and their embryonic stage, called microfilariae (mf), are found in the blood or skin of the host, depending upon the species of the parasite. Three genetically determined physiological races exist in W. bancrofti and B. malayi, based on the microfilarial periodicity. They are the nocturnally periodic, nocturnally subperiodic and diurnally subperiodic forms. The susceptibility of a mosquito species to filarial infection depends on various factors, which could be genetic, physiological or physical. Survival analysis of Culex quinquefasciatus infected with W. bancrofti showed that the parasite load in the mosquito is a risk factor of vector survival. The extrinsic life cycle of the parasite is initiated when the mf are ingested by a mosquito vector during feeding on the host blood. On maturity, most of the infective L3 stage larvae migrate to the head and proboscis of the mosquito to get transmitted to the mammalian host during subsequent feeding. They develop to the adult L5 stage and the period of development and the longevity of the parasites varies according to the species of the nematode and the mammalian host. The rate of production of mf by the adult female was found to be stable at least for a period of five years. The life span of the mf has some influence on the dynamics of transmission of filariasis. Recent studies show that the endosymbiont, Wolbachia, plays an important role in the survival of filarial parasites. The possibility of in vitro and in vivo culture of filarial parasites is also reviewed.


Lymphatic filariasis Parasite Life cycle Microfilariae Distinguishing characters Periodicity Vector susceptibility Endosymbiont animal models 


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Copyright information

© Indian Society for Parasitology 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Vector Control Research Centre (Indian Council of Medical Research)Indira NagarPondicherryIndia

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