The distribution of epimastigote forms of Trypanosoma cruzi in the microcirculatory network and the vessel alterations were observed using an intravital microscopy technique. Immediately after intravenous inoculation of 2 × 106 epimastigote suspension into normal mice, parasites were seen as circulating clumps, and their retention at some sites of the endothelium of venules and capillaries was observed. Injection of 2 × 107 and 2 × 108 parasite suspensions induced, respectively, intermittent or total stasis of venules and capillaries, probably via obstruction by clumping. The mobility of epimastigotes in the clumps indicates that parasites were alive in the lumen of vessels. The retention of clumps in the capillaries, although intense, could only be observed when labeled parasites were inoculated. These results suggest that the rapid clearance of epimastigote forms of T. cruzi from the blood circulation of mice may be due to the retention of parasites to the endothelium of venules and capillaries that, in turn, may facilitate phagocytosis. This may be a mechanism by which mice are able to eliminate epimastigote forms from the circulation. These findings are consistent with our previous observations showing that epimastigotes are not lysed by complement activation but are phagocytosed and destroyed by a distinct population of blood cells.
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