Members of the genus Cryptosporidium, which cause the gastrointestinal disease cryptosporidiosis, still represent a significant cause of water-borne disease worldwide. While intensive efforts have been invested in the development of techniques for parasite culture, in vitro growth has been hampered by a number of factors including low levels of infectivity as well as delayed life-cycle development and poor synchronicity. In this study we examined factors affecting the timing of contact between excysted sporozoites and target host cells and the subsequent impact of this upon the establishment of infection. We demonstrate that excystation rate impacts upon establishment of infection and that in our standard assay format the majority of sporozoites are not close enough to the cell monolayer when they are released from the oocyst to successfully establish infection. However, this can be easily overcome by centrifugation of oocysts onto the cell monolayer, resulting in approximately 4-fold increases in sporozoite attachment and subsequent infection. We further demonstrate that excystation procedures can be tailored to control excystation rate to match the assay end purpose and that excystation rate can influence data interpretation. Finally, the addition of both a centrifugation and washing step post-sporozoite attachment may be appropriate when considering the design of in vitro culture experiments for developmental analysis and stage-specific gene expression as this appears to increase the synchronicity of early developmental stages.
- apical organelle discharge
- monolayer washing