Taenia (cestode)

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Taenia saginata adult 5260 lores.jpg
Taenia saginata
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Platyhelminthes
Class: Cestoda
Order: Cyclophyllidea
Family: Taeniidae
Genus: Taenia
Linnaeus, 1758
Type species
Taenia solium

Taenia is a genus of tapeworms (a type of helminth) that includes some important parasites of livestock. Members of the genus are responsible for taeniasis and cysticercosis in humans, which are a type of helminthiasis belonging to the group of neglected tropical diseases. More than 100 species are recorded. They are morphologically characterized by a ribbon-like body composed of a series of segments called proglottids; hence the name Taenia (Greek ταίνια, tainia meaning ribbon, bandage, or stripe). The anterior end of the body is the scolex. Not all members of the genus Taenia have an armed scolex (hooks and/or spines located in the "head" region), for example, Taenia saginata has an unarmed scolex, while Taenia solium has an armed scolex. [1]


Proglottids have a central ovary, with a vitellarium (yolk gland) posterior to it. As in all cyclophyllid cestodes, a genital pore occurs on the side of the proglottid. Eggs are released when the proglottid deteriorates, so a uterine pore is unnecessary.

Selected species


A pair of Taenia proglottids, dried and resembling sesame seeds, each containing hundreds of eggs Desiccated tapeworm proglottids.jpg
A pair of Taenia proglottids, dried and resembling sesame seeds, each containing hundreds of eggs
Lifecycle of T. saginata inside and outside of the human body Taenia Saginata Life Cycle.tif
Lifecycle of T. saginata inside and outside of the human body

The lifecycle begins with either the gravid proglottids or free eggs (embryophores) with oncospheres (also known as hexacanth embryos) being passed in the feces, which can last for days to months in the environment. Sometimes, these segments will still be motile upon excretion—they either empty themselves of their eggs within a matter of minutes, or in some species, retain them as a cluster and await the arrival of a suitable intermediate vertebrate host. The intermediate host (cattle, pigs, rodents, etc., depending on the species) must then ingest the eggs or proglottids. If the host is a correct one for the particular species, the embriophores then hatch, and the hexacanth embryos invade the wall of the small intestine of the intermediate host to travel to the striated muscles to develop into cysticerci larvae. Here they grow, cavitate, and differentiate into the second larval form shaped like a bladder (and erroneously believed until the middle of the 19th century to be a separate parasite, the bladderworm) which is infectious to the definitive host when an invaginated protoscolex is completely developed. To continue the process, the definitive host must eat the uncooked meat of the intermediate host. Once in the small intestine of the definitive host, the bladder is digested away, the scolex embeds itself into the intestinal wall, and the neck begins to bud off segments to form the strobila. New eggs usually appear in the feces of the definitive host within 6 to 9 weeks, and the cycle repeats itself.

T. saginata is about 1,000–2,000 proglottids long with each gravid proglottid containing 100,000 eggs, while T. solium contains about 1,000 proglottids with each gravid proglottid containing 60,000 eggs. [4]

Divergence of Taenia in humans

Humans were previously thought to have acquired Taenia species (T. solium, T. asiatica, and T. saginata) after the domestication of large mammals, although the omnivorous diet and foraging of early hominids suggest the contact between the ancestral Taenia was established prior to the rise of modern humans and advanced agriculture. Evidence suggests the domestication of animals by humans consequently introduced Taenia species to new intermediate hosts, cattle, and swine. [5]

Morphological and molecular data suggest Taenia divergence as specialize human parasites has been directly associated with earlier hominids and prior to the existence of modern Homo sapiens. Direct predator-prey relationships between humans and the original definitive and intermediate hosts of Taenia resulted in this host switch. Ecological evidence showed early hominids heavily preyed on one of the intermediate hosts, antelope, of Taenia, thus resulting in earlier colonization by the parasite prior to mammalian domestication. The early hominids had an omnivorous diet; they were hunters and scavengers. The abundance of antelope in sub-Saharan Africa savannah in the Late Pliocene resulted in a vast food resource for hominids and other carnivorous animals such as felids, canids, and hyaenids. [5] Hominids who hunted antelopes or scavenged killed antelopes bridged the beginning of a host-parasite relationship between hominids and Taenia. During this time, hominids may not have had the means of cooking their food. This would have greatly increased their chances of catching the cysticerci as a result of eating uncooked meat. Also, transmission of the parasite may have been enhanced by directly consuming the definitive host. Parasitological data support the foraging of antelope by Homo species during the Late Pliocene and Pleistocene periods. This corresponds to the initial contact of the ancestral Taenia and specialize into T. solium, T. saginata, and T. asiatica, thus resulting in colonization of the early hominids as definitive hosts.

Host switching for Taenia is most prevalent among carnivores and less prevalent among herbivores through cospeciation. An excess of 50–60% of Taenia colonization occurs among carnivores — hyaenids, felids, and hominids. [6] Acquisition of the parasite occurs more frequently among definitive hosts than among intermediate hosts. [6] Therefore, host switching likely could not have come from cattle and pigs. The establishment of cattle and pigs as intermediate host by Taenia species is consequently due to the synanthropic relationship with humans. During the past 8,000–10,000 years, the colonization of respective Taenia species from humans to cattle and to swine was established. [6] In contrast, the colonization of ancestral Taenia onto the early hominids was established 1.0–2.5 million years ago. [6] It clearly shows the colonization of human Taenia antedates the domestication of mammals.

Related Research Articles

<i>Taenia solium</i> Species of Cestoda

Taenia solium is the pork tapeworm, belongs to the cyclophyllid cestode family Taeniidae. It is found throughout the world and is most common in countries where pork is eaten. It is a tapeworm which has humans as its definitive host and often pigs as intermediate or secondary host. It may be transmitted to pigs through human faeces contaminating their fodder, and back to humans through consumption of uncooked, or under-cooked, pork that contains tapeworm cysts. Pigs ingest tapeworm eggs, which develop into larvae, then into oncospheres, and ultimately into infective tapeworm cysts. An ingested tapeworm cyst grows into an adult worm in human small intestines.

<i>Taenia saginata</i> species of Cestoda

Taenia saginata, commonly known as the beef tapeworm, is a zoonotic tapeworm belonging to the order Cyclophyllidea and genus Taenia. It is an intestinal parasite in humans causing taeniasis and cysticercosis in cattle. Cattle are the intermediate hosts, where larval development occurs, while humans are definitive hosts harbouring the adult worms. It is found globally and most prevalently where cattle are raised and beef is consumed. It is relatively common in Africa, Europe, Southeast Asia, South Asia, and Latin America. Humans are generally infected as a result of eating raw or undercooked beef which contains the infective larvae, called cysticerci. As hermaphrodites, each body segment called proglottid has complete sets of both male and female reproductive systems. Thus, reproduction is by self-fertilisation. From humans, embryonated eggs, called oncospheres, are released with faeces and are transmitted to cattle through contaminated fodder. Oncospheres develop inside muscle, liver, and lungs of cattle into infective cysticerci.

<i>Echinococcus granulosus</i> species of worm

Echinococcus granulosus, also called the hydatid worm, hyper tape-worm or dog tapeworm, is a cyclophyllid cestode that dwells in the small intestine of canids as an adult, but which has important intermediate hosts such as livestock and humans, where it causes cystic echinococcosis, also known as hydatid disease. The adult tapeworm ranges in length from 3 mm to 6 mm and has three proglottids ("segments") when intact—an immature proglottid, mature proglottid and a gravid proglottid. The average number of eggs per gravid proglottid is 823. Like all cyclophyllideans, E. granulosus has four suckers on its scolex ("head"), and E. granulosus also has a rostellum with hooks. Several strains of E. granulosus have been identified, and all but two are noted to be infective in humans.

<i>Dipylidium caninum</i> species of worm

Dipylidium caninum, also called the flea tapeworm, double-pored tapeworm, or cucumber tapeworm, is a cyclophyllid cestode that infects organisms afflicted with fleas and canine chewing lice, including dogs, cats, and sometimes human pet-owners, especially children.

<i>Hymenolepis nana</i> species of worm

Dwarf tapeworm is a cosmopolitan species though most common in temperate zones, and is one of the most common cestodes infecting humans, especially children.

<i>Taenia crassiceps</i> Species of Cestoda

Taenia crassiceps is a tapeworm in the family Taeniidae. It is a parasitic organism whose adult form infects the intestine of carnivores, like canids. It is related to Taenia solium, the pork tapeworm, and to Taenia saginata, the beef tapeworm. It is commonly found in the Northern Hemisphere, especially throughout Canada and the northern United States.

The Taeniidae are a family of tapeworms. It is the largest family representing the order Cyclophyllidea. It includes many species of medical and veterinary importance, as Taenia solium, Taenia saginata, and Echinococcus granulosus. The Taeniidae are parasites of mammals and many are infectious to humans.

<i>Taenia pisiformis</i> endoparasitic tapeworm

Taenia pisiformis, commonly called the rabbit tapeworm, is an endoparasitic tapeworm which causes infection in lagomorphs, rodents, and carnivores. Adult T. pisiformis typically occur within the small intestines of the definitive hosts, the carnivores. Lagomorphs, the intermediate hosts, are infected by fecal contamination of grasses and other food sources by the definitive hosts. The larval stage is often referred to as Cysticercus pisiformis and is found on the livers and peritoneal cavities of the intermediate hosts. T. pisiformis can be found worldwide.

Taeniasis Parasitic disease due to infection with tapeworms belonging to the genus Taenia

Taeniasis is an infection within the intestines by adult tapeworms belonging to the genus Taenia. There are generally no or only mild symptoms. Symptoms may occasionally include weight loss or abdominal pain. Segments of tapeworm may be seen in the stool. Complications of pork tapeworm may include cysticercosis.

Eucestoda, commonly referred to as tapeworms, are the larger of the two subclasses of flatworms in the class Cestoda. Larvae have six posterior hooks on the scolex (head), in contrast to the ten-hooked Cestodaria. All tapeworms are endoparasites of vertebrates, living in the digestive tract or related ducts. Examples are the pork tapeworm with a human definitive host, and pigs as the secondary host, and Moniezia expansa, the definitive hosts of which are ruminants.

Spirometra erinaceieuropaei is a parasitic tapeworm that infects domestic animals and humans. The medical term for this infection in humans and other animals is sparganosis. Morphologically, these worms are similar to other worms in the genus Spirometra. They have a long body consisting of three sections: the scolex, the neck, and the strobilia. They have a complex life cycle that consists of three hosts, and can live in varying environments and bodily tissues. Humans can contract this parasite in three main ways. Historically, humans are considered a paratenic host; however, the first case of an adult S. erinaceieuropaei infection in humans was reported in 2017. Spirometra tapeworms exist worldwide and infection is common in animals, but S. erinaceieuropaei infections are rare in humans. Treatment for infection typically includes surgical removal and anti-worm medication.

Cestoda class of worms

Cestoda is a class of parasitic worms in the flatworm phylum (Platyhelminthes). Most of the species—and the best-known—are those in the subclass Eucestoda; they are ribbon-like worms as adults, known as tapeworms. Their bodies consist of many similar units, known as proglottids, which are essentially packages of eggs which are regularly shed into the environment to infect other organisms. Species of the other subclass, Cestodaria, are mainly fish parasites.

Diphyllobothrium mansonoides is a species of tapeworm (cestodes) that is endemic to North America. Infection with D. mansonoides in humans can result in sparganosis. Justus F. Mueller first reported this organism in 1935. D. mansonoides is similar to D. latum and Spirometra erinacei. When the organism was discovered, scientist did not know if D. mansonoides and S. erinacei were separate species. PCR analysis of the two worms has shown the two to be separate but closely related organisms.

Coenurosis in humans Human disease

Coenurosis is a parasitic infection that results when humans ingest the eggs of dog tapeworm species Taenia multiceps, T. serialis, T. brauni, or T. glomerata.

<i>Raillietina</i> genus of worms

Raillietina is a genus of tapeworms that includes helminth parasites of vertebrates, mostly of birds. The genus was named in 1920 in honour of a French veterinarian and helminthologist, Louis-Joseph Alcide Railliet. Of the 37 species recorded under the genus, Raillietina demerariensis, R. asiatica, and R. formsana are the only species reported from humans, while the rest are found in birds. R. echinobothrida, R. tetragona, and R. cesticillus are the most important species in terms of prevalence and pathogenicity among wild and domestic birds.

Taenia asiatica, commonly known as Asian taenia or Asian tapeworm, is a parasitic tapeworm of humans and pigs. It is one of the three species of Taenia infecting humans and causes taeniasis. Discovered only in 1980s from Taiwan and other East Asian countries as an unusual species, it is so notoriously similar to Taenia saginata, the beef tapeworm, that it was for a time regarded as a slightly different strain. But anomaly arose as the tapeworm is not of cattle origin, but of pigs. Morphological details also showed significant variations, such as presence of rostellar hooks, shorter body, and fewer body segments. The scientific name designated was then Asian T. saginata. But the taxonomic consensus turns out to be that it is a unique species. It was in 1993 that two Korean parasitologists, Keeseon S. Eom and Han Jong Rim, provided the biological bases for classifying it into a separate species. The use of mitochondrial genome sequence and molecular phylogeny in the late 2000s established the taxonomic status.

Moniezia expansa is commonly known as sheep tapeworm or double-pored ruminant tapeworm. It is a large tapeworm inhabiting the small intestines of ruminants such as sheep, goats and cattle. It has been reported from Peru that pigs are also infected. There is an unusual report of human infection in an Egyptian. It is characterized by unarmed scolex, presence of two sets of reproductive systems in each proglottid, and each proglottid being very short but very broad.

<i>Raillietina tetragona</i> species of worm

Raillietina tetragona is a parasitic tapeworm belonging to the class Cestoda. It is a cosmopolitan helminth of the small intestine of pigeon, chicken and guinea fowl, and is found throughout the world.

Taenia hydatigena is one of the adult forms of the canine and feline tapeworm. This infection has a worldwide geographic distribution. Humans with taeniasis can infect other humans or animal intermediate hosts by eggs and gravid proglottids passed in the feces.

Cysticercus larval tapeworms of the genus Taenia

Cysticercus is a scientific name given to the young tapeworms (larvae) belonging to the genus Taenia. It is a small, sac-like vesicle resembling a bladder; hence, it is also known as bladder worm. It is filled with fluid, in which the main body of the larva, called scolex, resides. It normally develops from the eggs, which are ingested by the intermediate hosts, such as pigs and cattle. The tissue infection is called cysticercosis. Inside such hosts, they settle in the muscles. When humans eat raw or undercooked pork or beef that is contaminated with cysticerci, the larvae grow into adult worms inside the intestine. Under certain circumstances, specifically for the pork tapeworm, the eggs can be accidentally eaten by humans through contaminated foodstuffs. In such case, the eggs hatch inside the body, generally moving to muscles as well as inside the brain. Such brain infection can lead to a serious medical condition called neurocysticercosis. This disease is the leading cause of acquired epilepsy.


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