The production of Necator americanus larvae for use in experimental human infection

Chapman, Paul R., Llewellyn, Stacey, Jennings, Helen, Becker, Luke, Giacomin, Paul, McDougall, Rodney, Robson, Jennifer, Loukas, Alex, and McCarthy, James (2022) The production of Necator americanus larvae for use in experimental human infection. Parasites & Vectors, 15. 242.

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Background: Although there is unprecedented interest in experimental human hookworm infection, details of hookworm manufacture and characterisation have been sparsely reported. In this report, we detail the production and characterisation of Necator americanus larvae for use in a recently published clinical trial.

Methods: Faeces was obtained from an experimentally infected donor. Faecal hookworm DNA was determined by quantitative PCR. Paired samples were incubated in either sterile water or sterile water mixed with antimicrobials (amphotericin and gentamicin). Coproculture was performed by modified Harada-Mori method. The harvested larvae were then processed in either sterile water or antiseptic solution. Larval yield was then calculated (larvae per gram), larval viability was determined by thermally induced motility assay and microbial burden was determined at the day of harvest, at 48 h and at 7 days.

Results: Twenty-eight faecal cultures were performed over 16 months. The faecal hookworm DNA content was variable over this time. There was no association of larval yield with faecal hookworm DNA content. Pre-treatment of faeces with antimicrobials did not influence larval yield. Larval motility was 85.3% (95% CI 79.3–91.3%). Incubation of larvae in antiseptics did not reduce viability at 14 days with a marginal mean of 68.6% (95% CI 59.1–78.1%) washed in water vs. 63.3% (95% CI 53.8 – 72.9%) when incubated in betadine (p = 0.38). Larvae washed in sterile water did not meet microbial bioburden criteria. Incubation in antiseptic resulted in acceptable microbial bioburden at 48 h but not at 7 days. Although the addition of gentamicin did reduce the microbial bio-burden acceptable levels, it was found to significantly lower larval motility at 7 days compared to incubation in sterile water and motility at 7 days 37.8% (95% CI 4.7–70.9%) vs. 67.3% (95% CI 35.2–99.3%, p < 0.001), respectively.

Conclusions: Despite standardised culture methodologies and the use of a single donor, larval yield varied considerably between batches and had no association with faecal hookworm DNA. Larval viability decreases over time and the age of larvae at time of use are likely to be important. Microbial bioburden maybe temporarily reduced by incubation in antiseptics and has little effect on viability. Incubation of larvae in gentamicin is effective at reducing microbial bioburden but is deleterious to larval viability.

Item ID: 75624
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1756-3305
Keywords: Hookworm culture, Larval larvae, Hookworm larvae production
Copyright Information: © The Author(s) 2022. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.
Date Deposited: 03 Aug 2022 08:33
FoR Codes: 32 BIOMEDICAL AND CLINICAL SCIENCES > 3207 Medical microbiology > 320704 Medical parasitology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 20 HEALTH > 2001 Clinical health > 200105 Treatment of human diseases and conditions @ 100%
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