U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service




Date of this Version



Jarvi, S.I., J. Jacob, R.T. Sugihara, I.L. Leinbach, I.H. Klasner, L.M. Kaluna, K.A. Snook, M.K. Howe, S.H. Jacquier, I. Lange, A.L. Atkinson, A.R. Deane, C.N. Niebuhr, and S.R. Siers. 2019. Validation of a death assay for Angiostrongylus cantonensis larvae (L3) using propidium iodide in a rat model (Rattus norvegicus). Parasitology 146(11):1421-1428. doi: 10.1017/S0031182019000908


Angiostrongylus cantonensis is a pathogenic nematode and the cause of neuroangiostrongyliasis, an eosinophilic meningitis more commonly known as rat lungworm disease. Transmission is thought to be primarily due to ingestion of infective third stage larvae (L3) in gastropods, on produce, or in contaminated water. The gold standard to determine the effects of physical and chemical treatments on the infectivity of A. cantonensis L3 larvae is to infect rodents with treated L3 larvae and monitor for infection, but animal studies are laborious and expensive and also raise ethical concerns. This study demonstrates propidium iodide (PI) to be a reliable marker of parasite death and loss of infective potential without adversely affecting the development and future reproduction of live A. cantonensis larvae. PI staining allows evaluation of the efficacy of test substances in vitro, an improvement upon the use of lack of motility as an indicator of death. Some potential applications of this assay include determining the effectiveness of various anthelmintics, vegetable washes, electromagnetic radiation and other treatments intended to kill larvae in the prevention and treatment of neuroangiostrongyliasis.