The gastrointestinal nematode Nippostrongylus brasiliensis is thought to feed on host ingesta, and it is generally thought that the presence of ingesta determines the distribution of this parasite within the host intestine. However, these assertions have not been supported by direct evidence. The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that N. brasiliensis worms are preferentially found in regions of the host small intestine containing ingesta. The relationship between worm and ingesta distribution was investigated using mice infected with N. brasiliensis and killed on day 8 postinfection at 0130, 0730, 1330, or 1930 hr. There was an inverse relationship between worm and ingesta distributions, and the worms were distributed significantly more anteriad in the intestine than host ingesta, at all times during the 24 hr. To determine what the worms fed on, host ingesta, tissue, and blood were differentially labeled with the fluorescent dyes rhodamine B and Fluoresbrite®. The results of this study suggest that N. brasiliensis feeds on the host's intestinal wall, and that habitat distribution of this parasite within the small intestine is not directly related to the presence of luminal ingesta.
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