Prof. Dr. Markus Engstler
Chair of Cell and Developmental Biology
Biocenter, University of Würzburg
Tel.: 0931 31 80060
Fax: 0931 31 84250
Infection Biology, Molecular Cell Biology, Parasitology, Biophysics
Human-pathogenic Trypanosoma b. gambiense are the cause of an insidious and chronic form of human sleeping sickness that causes death months or years after infection. There is no animal reservoir of T. gambiense and hence, the infection cannot be studied in vivo. The tsetse fly injects parasites into the subcutaneous tissue and only after several days of rapid division, trypanosomes enter the draining lymphatic system and reach circulation. No systematic studies on the behaviour of trypanosomes in the skin have been conducted so far. Therefore, the group of Markus Engstler investigates artificial skin as a potential close-to-nature system allowing studies on the developmental progression of the parasite from insect to mammalian stage. Furthermore, skin tissue could be used as model for therapeutic assays, i.e. the local treatment with skin-permeable drugs. We have established infections of trypanosomes in non-vascularized skin tissue, showing that the parasites persist and multiply for several days. Moreover, we will soon begin to use vascularized skin tissue.