Onchocerciasis 1873

obtained by nodulectomy of infected individuals offer reasonable amounts of material, initial studies on the characterization of onchocercal antigens focused mainly on adult worms. However, advances in recombinant DNA technology have led to characterization of a number of antigens of microfilariae, adult worms and infective larvae at the molecular level. The antigens of O. volvulus have a wide range of biochemical and physical properties and specificity with respect to their surface-bound, secretory or intracellular nature as well as their characteristic occurrence in particular stages of the life cycle. Antigenic differences have also been observed between different geographical isolates of O. volvulus, e.g. savannah and rain forest areas of West Africa. Cross-reactivities between onchocercal antigens with other filarial as well as host antigens have been documented, suggesting structural similarities. Many of the parasite antigens are potent immunogens, as they stimulate production of antibodies in infected individuals.

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