The immunoreactivity of sera of infected hosts against glycolipids derived from Schistosoma mansoni eggs, adult male worms, and cercariae was analyzed by immunostaining of glycolipids resolved by high-performance thin-layer chromatography. Eggs contained the greatest number of immunogenic glycolipids and bound the largest proportion of serum antibodies. Virtually all of the immunogenic egg glycolipids were neutrally charged and contained oligosaccharide chains larger in size than five sugar residues. The glycolipids of each developmental stage were shown by use of five monoclonal antibodies to share schistosome-specific carbohydrate epitopes that were also present on glycoproteins. Several of the carbohydrate epitopes were expressed throughout the life cycle, yet the overall structures of the glycolipids were not conserved. Quantitative analyses by solid-phase binding assays indicated that the carbohydrate epitopes were differentially expressed between the glycolipids and glycoproteins of developmental stages. Sera from infected humans and mice both contained very high levels of anti-carbohydrate antibodies that were reactive with the glycolipids, irrespective of the stage or intensity of disease. Mice harboring unisexual infections of either male or female worms also recognized the egg glycolipids in a pattern indistinguishable from that of patently infected mice. A greater proportion of the humoral response against egg antigens in infected humans was directed against protein determinants, as compared with infected mice.

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