Experimental studies on the lead accumulation in the cestode Hymenolepis diminuta and its final host, Rattus norvegicus.
It recently became clear that acanthocephalans parasitizing mammals can bioconcentrate several heavy metals to conspicuously higher concentrations than the tissues of their definitive hosts. As cestodes are more abundant in terrestrial animals than acanthocephalans, and thus potentially more useful in attempts toward passive as well as active biomonitoring, a very common tapeworm and its synanthropic mammalian host were selected for the present study. The tapeworm Hymenolepis diminuta and experimentally infected male Wistar rats of the CD-M-strain were investigated with respect to their lead accumulation. The worms were allowed to grow up for five weeks post infection followed by a five weeks oral lead exposure of the rats. After the exposure period the rats were killed and the metal levels were determined in muscle, liver, intestine, testes and kidney of the rats as well as in the parasites. Lead concentrations were found to be 17 times higher in the cestodes than in kidney, whereas metal levels in all other host tissues were below the detection limit. Thus, this study reveals that lead accumulation also occurs in cestodes parasitizing mammals. Due to a lack of adequate sentinel species in terrestrial habitats the host-parasite-system rat-H. diminuta appears to be a useful and promising bioindication system especially in urban ecosystems.
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