A single-dose treatment with diethylcarbamazine (DEC) reduced microfilaria (mf) counts of Brugia pahangi by >90% at 30 min post-treatment in Mongolian jirds (Meriones unguiculatus). The reduction was followed by a rapid increase in microfilaremia, with the count reaching pretreatment level in 3 hr. The mechanisms behind this temporary reduction of mf were investigated. Without treatment, mf accumulated in the lungs. At 30 min post-treatment, they had moved from the lungs and accumulated in the muscle. At the same time, electron microscopy revealed many mf in the muscle interstitium. DEC concentrations at 30 min were much lower in the muscle (12.2 μg/g of tissue) than in the lungs, liver, and kidneys (19.8–40.7 μg/g), all of which declined to <0.6 μg/g by 3 hr. The presence of mf in the muscle would be advantageous for avoiding high DEC concentrations, and their extravascular location could prevent attack by host effector cells.
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