Parassitologia, Istopatologia, Immunoistochimica ed Ultrastruttura


Blocco B - Piano Rialzato - Stanza 28

Sezione: Biologia ed Evoluzione

Responsabile: Bahram Sayyaf Dezfuli


Department of Life Sciences and Biotechnology; University of Ferrara; St. Borsari, 46, 44121 Ferrara - Italy

Tel. 0039 0532 455701 - Fax 0039 0532 455715


Short curriculum vitae

Bahram Sayyaf Dezfuli has lived in Italy since April 1980. 

Education and permanent position: 
Degree in Biological Sciences, Institute of Zoology, University of Ferrara, 1988 
Ph.D. Department of Biology, University of Ferrara, 1994 
From 1995 to September 2014 had permanent position as assistant professor (researcher) in Zoology. Since October 2014, has associate professor position in Parasitology and parasitic diseases of animals. 

Visiting positions: 
2000. Department of Invertebrate Zoology, University of Gydnia, Poland 
2001. Department of Zoology, University of Wien 
2002. Institute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling 
2003. Institute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling 
2004. Department of Embryology, University of Wien 
2004. School of Biological Sciences, University of Nebraska Lincoln 
2005. Medical Univ. of Wien, Centre of Anatomy and Cell Biology 
2006. Medical Univ. of Wien, Centre of Anatomy and Cell Biology
2016. Department of Biology, University of Tunis El Manar, Tunis, Tunisia
2018. Department of Biology, University of Mugla, Turkey

Teaching and Professional experience and activity: 
Teaching Assistant in Zoology, 1988-1992 (Institute of Zoology, University of Ferrara, Biology) 
Outstanding Graduate Research Proposal 1992-1993 (Department of Biology, University of Ferrara) 
Teaching Assistant in Parasitology, 1993-1995 (Department of Biology, University of Ferrara) 

Teaching in Symbiosis and Animal Associations since 2000, teaching in Parasitological techniques in Aquatic Organisms since 2001, teaching in interactions between animal species: parasitism since 2003, teaching in Fauna Conservation since 2003, teaching in Animal Biology since 2006. Teaching in Parasitology and zoonosis since 2015. 

Since 1995 he was supervisor of: 20 undergraduate thesis in Biological Sciences, 7 in Natural Sciences, 4 in Pharmacy, 10  in Biotechnology, 1 master thesis and 2 PhD thesis.

Membership of Scientific Societies: 
American Society of Parasitology 
British Society for Parasitologists 
Italian Society of Parasitology, 
Italian Society of Zoologists 
Italian Society of Freshwater Ichthyologists. 


Bahram Sayyaf Dezfuli is author of 270 papers of which 165 are peer-reviewed in International journals. He organized two workshops at Ferrara, respectively, in 1997, Fourth International Acanthocephala Workshop and in 2001 First International Rodlet Cell Workshop. He has cooperation with 14 Departments and Institutes of Research. Currently he is the Guest Editor of a special issue of Parasitology (Fish Parasites) which will be publish in late  2022.


Chapter of books:

B. S. Dezfuli (1995). Acanthocephala. In: Checklist delle specie della Fauna Italiana, Fascicolo XII, Edizione Calderoni,1 - 10.

M. Carcupino, B. S. Dezfuli (1999). Acanthocephala, In: Progress in Male Gamete Biology, B. G. M. Jamieson (Ed.), Oxford and IBH Publishing Co., Pvt., Ltd., New Dehli, 229-242.

B. S. Dezfuli, L. Giari (2022). Acanthocephala, In: Invertebrate Zoology a Tree of Life Approach, Edited by Bernd Schierwater & Rob DeSalle,  CRC Taylor & Francis Group. New York, 369-378.

Has been referee for the following journals: 

Journal of Fish Biology, Parasitology, Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, Natur Wissenschaften, Helminthologia, Folia Parasitologica, Journal of Fish Diseases, Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology, Histology & Histopathology, Fish & Shellfish Immunology, Acta Parasitologica, Veterinary Research Communication, Comparative Parasitology, Journal of Parasitology, New Zealand Journal of Freshwater Research, Biological Research, Acta Zoologica, Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, Diseases of Aquatic Organisms, Zoomorphology, Developmental & Comparative Immunology, Parasitology Research. Journal of Helminthology. 

He is member of Editoria Board of these journals: Parasitology, Animals, Journal of Marine Sciences Research & Development, Annals of Aquaculture and Research, Fishes. 

Main topic of researches

My work is aimed at understanding some aspects of Acanthocephala biology. I started my research on this group in 1986 and have been examining acanthocephalan parasites of brackish and freshwater fishes. To date our work has focused on the life cycle, morphology and histopathology of this group. We use laboratory and field experiments in our investigations and have conducted work in many streams and rivers of North and Central Italy. 

Concerning the life cycle, we determined the life cycle of four acanthocephalan species which use different crustaceans (Amphipoda, Isopoda, Ostracoda) as their intermediate host. With reference to the life cycle, the ecological aspects of infection (temperature, seasonal and annual cycle) are of great interest. Moreover, we also conducted an investigation of alteration of intermediate host behavior.

In reference to the morphology, often we use scanning electron microscopy (SEM), which allows one to observe minute details of an organism’s external features (see photo of Polyacathorhynchus kenyensis). 

Regarding the histopathology, our study has mainly focused on the damages caused by helminths in fish and other Vertebrates definitive hosts. For this purpose we use immunohistochemistry methods and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Moreover, research on damages caused by acanthocephalans to crustacean intermediate host are in progress. 

In collaboration, we carry out molecular investigations on different acanthocephalan species (larvae and adults) for identification purposes. Moreover, with immunological methods we detect the occurrence and role of some neuromodulators in fish infected with intestinal helminths. 
Another our current research is investigation on presence and role of rodlet cells in fish (see picture). They were discovered for the first time in 1892 by Thélohan and since that time the exact nature and function has been subject of controversy. One of our goal is to detect and compare the occurrence of rodlet cells in healthy and fish infected with helminths. 

In collaboration, we carry out investigations on species associations among larval helminths in crustacean intermediate host and the adult parasites in fish. 

Recently, in cooperation with other 2 groups, we study the effect of pollution on different type of fish cells, specially on rodlet cells. We started the cooperation with equip of Prof. Eduard Noga who isolated for the first time a family of antimicrobial peptides from fish mast cells (named piscidins).  We are very active in study of mast cells and neutrophils in infected organs of fish and on role of mucosal immunity against enteric worms and myxozoan.


Peer view publications since 2019


- B. Sayyaf Dezfuli , M. Manera, G. Bosi, P. Merella, J. A. DePasquale, L. Giari (2019). Description of epithelial granular cell in catshark spiral intestine: immunohistochemistry and ultrastructure. Journal of Morphology, 280:205-2013.

- M. Manera, B. Sayyaf Dezfuli, G. Castaldelli, J. A. DePasquale, E. A. Fano, C. Martino, L. Giari (2019). Perfluorooctanoic acid exposure assessment on common carp liver through image and ultrastructural investigation. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2019, 16, 4923

- G. Bosi, J. A. DePasquale, E. Rossetti, B. Sayyaf Dezfuli (2020). Differential mucins secretion by intestinal mucous cells of Chelon ramada in response to an enteric helminth Neoechinorhynchus agilis (Acanthocephala). Acta Histochemica, 122, 151488

- B. Sayyaf Dezfuli, G. Castaldelli, R. Tomaini, M. Manera, J. A. DePasquale, G. Bosi (2020). Challenge for macrophages and mast cells of Chelon ramada to counter an intestinal microparasite, Myxobolus mugchelo (Myxozoa). Diseases of Aquatic Organisms, 138, 171-183.

B. Sayyaf Dezfuli, S. Rubini, J. A. De Pasquale. F. Pironi   (2020). Ultrastructure of male Centrorhynchus globocaudatus (Acanthocephala) cement apparatus and function of cement gland secretion. Journal of Helminthology, 94:e161, 1-7.

-  Bosi G., M. Lorenzoni, A. Carosi, B. Sayyaf Dezfuli (2020). Mucous cell distribution in the alimentary canal of northern pike Esox lucius (Linnaeus). Animals, 10, 1479.



B. Sayyaf Dezfuli, M. Manera, S. Rubini (2021). Intestinal histopathology due to an acanthocephalan in two corvids species from Northern Italy. Journal of Wildlife Diseases, 57: 215-219.

B. Sayyaf Dezfuli, E. Simoni, G. Bosi, M. Palomba, S. Mattiucci, L. Giulietti, M. Bao, A. Levsen, P. Cipriani (2021). Immunohistopathological response against anisakid nematode larvae and a coccidian in Micromesistius poutassou from NE Atlantic waters, Journal of Helminthology, 95, e14, 1-10.

B. Sayyaf Dezfuli, C. Maestri, M. Lorenzoni, A. Carosi, B. J. Maynard, G. Bosi (2021). The impact of Anguillicoloides crassus (Nematoda) on European eel swimbladder: histopathology and relationship between neuroendocrine and immune cells, Parasitology, 1–11.

B. Sayyaf Dezfuli, L. Giari, G. Bosi (2021). Survival of metazoan parasites in fish: Putting into context the protective immune responses of teleost fish, Advances in Parasitology, 112: 77-132.


B. Sayyaf Dezfuli, F. Pironi, B. J. Maynard, E. Simoni, G. Bosi (2022). Rodlet cells, fish immune cells and a sentinel of parasitic harm in teleost organs. Fish & Shellfish Immunology, 121: 516-534.

G. Bosi, P. Merella, B. J. Maynard, B. Sayyaf Dezfuli (2022). Microscopic characterization of the mucous cells and their mucin secretions in the alimentary canal of the Blackmouth catshark Galeus melastomus (Chondrichthyes: Elasmobranchii). Fishes, 7, 8.

B. Sayyaf Dezfuli, T. scholz (2022). Fish parasites (special issue) – editorial, Parasitology, 149, 1811–1814. 10.1017/S0031182022001433.

G. Bosi, B. J. Maynard, F. Pironi, B. Sayyaf Dezfuli (2022). Parasites and the neuroendocrine control of fish intestinal function: an ancient struggle between pathogens and host, Parasitology, 149: 1842-1861, 10.1017/S0031182022001433.

H. Schmidt, K. Mauer, M. Glaser, B. Sayyaf Dezfuli, S. L. Hellmann, A. L. S. Gomes, F. Butter, R. C. Wade, T. Hankeln, H. Herlyn.(2022). Identification of antiparasitic drug targets using an omics-based pipeline in the acanthocephalan model, BMC Genomics, 23:677.


B. Sayyaf Dezfuli, G. Castaldelli, M. Lorenzoni, A. Carosi, M. Ovcharenko, G. Bosi (2023). Rodlet cells provide first line of defense against swimbladder nematode and intestinal coccidian in Anguilla anguilla, Fishes, 8, 66. fishes8020066.






Rodlet Cell

Histopathology and Immunohistochemistry



According to Lühe (1904), the earliest description of Acanthocephala, namely those worms having a proboscis armed with hooks, was made by Italian author Francesco Redi (1684). Since then, many eminent parasitologists have studied the biology of this group of helminths. The Acanthocephala represent an entirely parasitic taxon of pseudocoelomate worms, containing over 1200 species. Adults live as endoparasites in the alimentary canal of all classes of vertebrates in marine, freshwater, and terrestrial habitats and larvae live in the body cavity of arthropods. The arthropod becomes infected by eating the mature egg, from which the acanthor larva is freed into the lumen of the invertebrate's digestive tract. Later, this larva bores into the gut wall and enters the hemocoel. Here, development of the parasite proceeds through the acanthella stage up to the cystacanth stage, which can infect the vertebrate host after the arthropod is ingested. Acanthocephala exhibit considerable uniformity of structure and similarity in life cycles and reproductive processes. All acanthocephalan worms are dioecious and their reproductive organs are highly characteristic.

The most noticeable difference between the sexes of acanthocephala is that of body size; the female specimen is longer than the male (Parshad and Crompton, 1981). Other sexually dimorphic traits appear as differences in external features such the size and shape of the proboscis, as well as the size and shape of the attachment organ's hooks, the distribution of body spines, the presence of papillae and the position of genital orifices (Van Cleave, 1920; Yamaguti, 1963).

Acanthocephala have cylindrical or flattened bodies, usually white in color, with some species slightly yellow to orange. Most species are not much more than 1 cm in length, but some measure up to 70 cm. The body consists of two parts:

I - The praesoma comprises the armed proboscis, a more or less pronounced neck, the proboscis receptacle and a paired structure termed lemnisci which protrudes inwards from the inner surface of the neck wall;

II - The metasoma or trunk encloses the pseudocoel, in which are suspended the reproductive organs of Acanthocephala.

The classification of the Acanthocephala presented below is based on concepts proposed by Amin (1987). According to this scheme the phylum consisting of four classes, namely Palaeacanthocephala, Archiacanthocephala, Polyacanthocephala and Eoacanthocephala.

Acanthocephala attain sexual maturity in the digestive tract of the definitive host (vertebrates), generally in a specific site (Crompton, 1973). In this phylum sexual reproduction is the only form that occurs. In fact, in this group of helminths parthenogenesis, hermaphroditism and other forms of asexual propagation are unknown (Van Cleave, 1953; Kennedy, 1993).

Much of our knowledge concerning the ultrastructure of spermatogenesis and spermatozoa of Acanthocephala is due to the contributions of Marchand and Mattei (see Crompton and Nickol, 1985). More work has been done on spermatogenesis and the structure of the spermatozoa than on the testes.

Acanthocephalan biology was published in a monograph edited by Crompton and Nickol (1985), and recently the reproduction of the phylum has been reviewed by Carcupino and Dezfuli (1999).


Amin, O. M. (1987). 'Key to the families and subfamilies of Acanthocephala, with erection of a new class (Polyacanthocephala) and a new order (Polyacanthorhynchida)', Journal of Parasitology, 73, 1216-1219.

Carcupino, M., Dezfuli, B. S. (1999). Acanthocephala, In: Progress in Male Gamete Biology, B. G. M. Jamieson (Ed.), Oxford and IBH Publishing Co., Pvt., Ltd., New Dehli, 229-242.

Crompton, D. W. T. (1973). 'The sites occupied by some parasitic helminths in the alimentary tract of vertebrates', Biological Reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, 48, 27-83.

Crompton, D. W. T., Nickol, B. B. (1985). 'Biology of the Acanthocephala' (Ed.D. W. T. Crompton, B. B. Nickol), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, London, New York, New Rochelle, Melbourne,Sydney.

Kennedy, C. R. (1993). 'Acanthocephala', in Reproductive biology of invertebrates, (Ed. K.G. Adiyodi, R. Adiyodi), Oxford & IBH Publishing CO.PVT.LTD, New Dehli, Bombay, Calcutta, pp. 279-295.

Lühe, M. (1904). 'Geschichte und Ergebnisse der Echinorhynchen-Forschung bis auf Westrumb (1821)', Zoologische Ann.... Zeitschift, 1, 139-250.

Parshad,V. R., Crompton, D.W.T. (1981). 'Aspects of acanthocephalan reproduction', Advances in Parasitology, 19, 73-138.

Redi, F. (1684). 'Osservazioni intorno agli animali viventi che si trovano negli animali viventi' (Ed. F. Redi), Accademia della Crusca, Firenze.

Van Cleave, H. J. (1920). 'Sexual dimorphism in the Acanthocephala', Transactions of the Illinois State Academy of Sciences, 13, 280-292.

Van Cleave, H. J. (1953). 'Acanthocephala of North American Mammals', Illinois Biological Monographs, 23, 1-179.

Yamaguti, S. (1963). 'Systema Helminthum. v. Acanthocephala' (Ed. S. Yamaguti), John Wiley and Sons, New York, London.


Up date  January 21, 2023