Encephalitozoon microsporidia proliferate and differentiate within a parasitophorous vacuole. Using the fluorescent probe, calcein, and the mitochondrial probe, MitoTracker-CMXRos, a vital method was developed that confirmed ultrastructural reports that the host cell mitochondria frequently lie in immediate proximity to the parasitophorous vacuole. Morphometry failed to demonstrate any infection-induced increase in host cell mitochondria as there was no correlation between the mitochondrial volume and the extent of infection as judged by the parasitophorous vacuole volume. The total ATP concentration of infected cells did not differ from that of uninfected cells in spite of the increased metabolic demands of the infection. Treatment with 10−6 M albendazole, more than ten times the antiparasitic IC50 dose, and demecolcine had no subjective effect on the proximity of mitochondria to the parasitophorous vacuole membrane when studied by either transmission electron microscopy or by confocal microscopy even though these drug concentrations affected microtubule structure. Thus, once the association between mitochondria and the parasitophorous vacuole has been established, host cell microtubule integrity is probably not required for its maintenance. It is unlikely that the antimicrosporidial action of albendazole involves physically uncoupling developing parasite stages from host cell organelle metabolic support.
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Vol. 51 • No. 1