Methods: Here, we have selected a population of epimastigotes (a replicative form) from T. cruzi through two rounds of exposure to normal human serum (NHS), to reach 30% survival (2R population). This 2R population was characterized in several aspects and compared to Wild type population.
Results: The 2R population had a favored metacyclogenesis compared with wild-type (WT) parasites. 2R metacyclic trypomastigotes had a two-fold increase in resistance to complementmediated lysis and were at least three times more infective to eukaryotic cells, probably due to a higher GP82 expression in the resistant population. Moreover, we have shown that EVs from resistant parasites can transfer the invasive phenotype to the WT population. In addition, we showed that the virulence phenotype of the selected population remains in the trypomastigote form derived from cell culture, which is more infective and also has a higher rate of release of trypomastigotes from infected cells.
Conclusions: Altogether, these data indicate that it is possible to select parasites after exposure to a particular stress factor and that the phenotype of epimastigotes remained in the infective stage. Importantly, EVs seem to be an important virulence fator increasing mechanism in this context of survival and persistence in the host.