Folia Parasitologica, vol. 52 (2005), issue 1/2

Folia Parasitologica 52[1/2] 83-94 (2005) | DOI: 10.14411/fp.2005.011

Public health importance of Brachiola algerae (Microsporidia) - an emerging pathogen of humans

Govinda S. Visvesvara1, Hercules Moura1,2,3, Gordon J. Leitch4, David A. Schwartz5, Lihua X. Xiao1
1 Division of Parasitic Diseases, National Center for Infectious Deseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Public Health Service, Department of Health and Human Services, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
2 AREF, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
3 Present address: Mass Spectrometry Laboratory, Emergency Response and Air Toxicans Branch, Division of Laboratory Scienses, CDC, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
4 Department of Physiology, Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
5 Guest Researcher, National Center for Infectious Deseases, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Brachiola algerae (Vavra et Undeen, 1970), a parasite of Anopheles mosquitoes, has also been isolated from a human cornea, a cutaneous nodule and deep muscle tissue. All three human isolates of B. algerae are morphologically, serologically, and genetically similar to the mosquito-derived isolates including the original isolate of Vavra and Undeen. All of these isolates grew well in mammalian cell cultures at 37°C and produced spores. Transmission electron microscopy revealed that all developmental stages including meronts, sporoblasts and spores were diplokaryotic and developed in direct contact with the host cell cytoplasm, a feature characteristic of the genus Brachiola. Spores of all isolates reacted well, in the immunofluorescence assay, with the rabbit anti-B. algerae serum. In the immunoblot assay, although the overall banding patterns of the human and mosquito isolates were similar, minor differences could be discerned. Sequencing of the PCR products of the amplified SSU rRNA gene revealed the existence of two distinct genotypes; the original mosquito (Undeen) isolate belonged to genotype 1 and the isolate from cornea and that from the deep muscle biopsy to genotype 2, whereas the isolates from a mosquito and one of the other two human isolates (one from skin abscess) had both genotypes, 1 and 2. It is known that spores of mosquito-derived B. algerae can not only proliferate in mammalian cell cultures at 37°C but also can infect mice when injected into footpads or deposited on the corneal surface. These observations indicate that the spores have potential to be a risk factor for humans, especially those with immunodeficiency.

Keywords: Microsporidia, Brachiola algerae, cell culture, genotype, immunolbot, PCR products, sequencing

Received: October 1, 2004; Accepted: March 28, 2005; Published: May 1, 2005


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