A method was developed for coupling a hapten, trinitrophenyl (TNP), to the surface of schistosomula of Schistosoma mansoni which results in a minimal loss in their viability as judged by morphological examination in vitro and survival after injection in vivo. Skin-stage (3-h-old) and lung-stage (5-d-old) schistosomula surface labeled in this manner were then compared for their susceptibility to killing by anti-TNP antibody-dependent effector mechanisms both in vivo and in vitro. TNP skin-stage larvae were readily rejected in mice actively immunized against TNP bovine gamma globulin and were highly susceptible to anti-TNP-dependent killing mediated either by complement or purified human eosinophils in vitro. In contrast, TNP-lung-stage schistosomula, which were shown by microfluorimetry to bind anti-TNP antibody to approximately the same extent as skin-stage schistosomula, were found to be resistant to killing by the same in vivo and in vitro mechanisms. These findings suggest that the insusceptibility of postskin-stage schistosomula to antibody-dependent killing must result at least in part from an intrinsic structural change in the integument of the parasite and cannot be caused solely by the masking of parasite antigens by acquired host molecules, a mechanism of immune evasion previously proposed for schistosomes.

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