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 Molecular Confirmation of Schistosoma

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MensajeTema: Molecular Confirmation of Schistosoma   Sáb Jul 11, 2015 11:50 pm

Molecular Confirmation of Schistosoma
and Family Relationship
in two Ancient Egyptian Mummies
Carney D. Matheson1, Rosalie David2, Mark Spigelman3, 4 and Helen D. Donoghue4, 5
Egg morphology and immunocytochemistry have identified schistosomiasis in ancient Egypt. Our study aimed
to detect and characterize schistosomal DNA in mummified human tissue. Liver samples from the mummy
Nekht-Ankh (c. 3900 BP) and intestinal samples from Khnum-Nakht, possibly his brother, were analyzed using
PCR primers suitable for fragmented ancient DNA, specific for either Schistosoma mansoni or Schistosoma haematobium.
Mitochondrial primers examined any relationship between the supposed brothers. Two independent
laboratories confirmed S. mansoni DNA from the Nekht-Ankh liver. One laboratory detected S. haematobium DNA
in both the Nekht-Ankh liver and intestinal samples from Khnum-Nakht in repeat experiments. We believe
this is the first verified report of S. mansoni in ancient Egypt. Although no S. haematobium DNA sequence was
obtained, the results support earlier histological findings of S. haematobium in ancient Egyptian mummies. These
findings demonstrate that both S. mansoni and S. haematobium were present in Central Egypt during the Middle
Kingdom, around 3900 years ago. From the mitochondrial DNA analysis it appears that these two individuals
were not maternally related, which is consistent with the morphology of the skulls. The lack of genetic relatedness
between these supposed brothers throws light upon the habit of adoption in this society.
Schistosomiasis has been extensively documented in Egypt, and Schistosoma eggs were detected in a pre-
Dynastic mummy from 3200 BC (Deelder et al 1990). Today around two billion people are infected in the
world, with 300 million suffering severely from the disease. Egypt continues to be a major affected area
and in 2009 there were 820 442 treated cases reported (WHO 2011). Descriptions of medical conditions
consistent with schistosomiasis have been documented in the Egyptological literature (Adamson 1976,
Jordan 2000, Nunn & Tapp 2000). Direct evidence of schistosomiasis was obtained when a paleopathologist
found the calcified eggs of Schistosoma haematobium, recognized by their morphology, in preserved
kidneys from two mummies of the Twentieth Dynasty (Ruffer 1910). Further morphological evidence of
schistosomiasis was obtained from a 5000 year-old mummy (Deelder et al. 1990), the bladder of a New
Kingdom mummy dating to c. 3450 BP (Horne 2003) and a 65 % prevalence found among mummies
(350-550 CE) from the Wadi Halfa area on the Sudan-Egyptian border (Miller et al. 1992). In the 1990s, a
major study of schistosomiasis in ancient Egyptian mummified remains was undertaken at the University
of Manchester (Contis & David 1996). Immunocytochemistry was pioneered as a diagnostic tool to detect
1 Lakehead University, Department of Anthropology, Canada.
2 KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester, UK.
3 Kuvin Centre for the Study of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, The Hebrew University, Hadassah Medical
School, Jerusalem, Israel.
4 Centre for Clinical Microbiology, Royal Free Campus, University College London, London, UK.
5 Centre for the History of Medicine, University College London, London, UK;
E-mail: (corresponding author).
Matheson et
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