Author ORCID Identifier

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Microbiology & Immunology

First Advisor

Dr. Francine Marciano-Cabral

Second Advisor

Dr. Brian Wattenberg

Third Advisor

Dr. Melissa Jamerson


The free-living amoeba and causative agent of Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis, Naegleria fowleri, has three life stages: the trophozoite, the flagellate, and the cyst. This study examined the ability of the cyst to attach to, excyst upon, and destroy cell cultures grown to confluent monolayers, and to cause Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis in a murine animal model. The co-culture of cysts with P388D.1, CHME3, Vero, human nasal epithelial, and rat primary mixed glial cells resulted in destruction of the monolayer of all cell types once the cysts attached and excysted. One day post exposure to cysts, the mixed glial cells exhibited a two-fold increase in lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) release compared to cells without cysts, and on day eight post exposure, showed a nearly four-fold increase in LDH. In this study, the cysts of N. fowleri were shown not to be infective in vivo in a murine model using B6C3F1 male mice. The mediation of the encystment process by the intracellular concentration of the secondary messenger cAMP, as described in other closely related genera and species of amoeba, was also investigated. Encystment of N. fowleri was shown to be mediated at least in part by the secondary messenger cAMP by treating cultures of the trophozoite with 100 uM dipyridamole, an inhibitor of cAMP-specific phosphodiesterases. Dipyridamole (100 μM) increased the rate of encystment by nearly two-fold compared to 0.1% DMSO by the end of a five day period of observation. This suggests that cAMP is an essential mediator of the encystment process within Naegleria fowleri.


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