Human subcutaneous dirofilariasis is an increasingly reported zoonosis caused by several filarial species, in particular by Dirofilaria (Nochtiella) repens. Like many filarial worms, D. repens harbors the bacterial endosymbiont Wolbachia that has been implicated in the inflammatory features of filarial infection. Immunohistochemical staining against the Wolbachia surface protein (WSP) was carried out on 14 skin nodules and showed numerous bacteria within the intact worms and occasional positive staining within the surrounding inflammatory infiltrate. Serum samples from 11 of these patients resulted positive for total immunoglobulin G titers against WSP as examined in enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. This is the first description of Wolbachia distribution in D. repens and the first report of specific immune response to Wolbachia in patients with subcutaneous dirofilariasis.
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