Document Type


Publication Date



This article is the author's final published version in Scientific Reports, Volume 13, Issue 1, 2023, Article number 976.

The published version is available at Copyright © The Author(s) 2023.


Heartworm disease, caused by Dirofilaria immitis, remains a significant threat to canines and felines. The development of parasites resistant to macrocyclic lactones (ML) has created a significant challenge to the control of the infection. The goal of this study was to determine if mice lacking a functional immune response would be susceptible to D. immitis. Immunodeficient NSG mice were susceptible to the infection, sustaining parasites for at least 15 weeks, with infective third-stage larvae molting and developing into the late fourth-stage larvae. Proteomic analysis of host responses to the infection revealed a complex pattern of changes after infection, with at least some of the responses directed at reducing immune control mechanisms that remain in NSG mice. NSG mice were infected with isolates of D. immitis that were either susceptible or resistant to MLs, as a population. The susceptible isolate was killed by ivermectin whereas the resistant isolate had improved survivability, while both isolates were affected by moxidectin. It was concluded that D. immitis survives in NSG mice for at least 15 weeks. NSG mice provide an ideal model for monitoring host responses to the infection and for testing parasites in vivo for susceptibility to direct chemotherapeutic activity of new agents.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

PubMed ID