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J Clin Microbiol. 2005 Mar;43(3):1017-23.

Detection of cryptosporidium and identification to the species level by nested PCR and restriction fragment length polymorphism.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Parasitologie-Mycologie, UFR Lariboisière St-Louis Université Paris 7, Faculté de Médecine, 15 rue de l'école de médecine, 75006 Paris, France.


Cryptosporidiosis is an emerging protozoan disease associated with large waterborne outbreaks. Diagnosis relies on microscopic examination of stools, but this method cannot identify the infecting species of Cryptosporidium. We have developed a test based on nested PCR and restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) that offers simple identification of Cryptosporidium hominis, Cryptosporidium parvum, and most other human infective species in stool samples. Purified C. parvum oocysts were used for PCR development. Extracted DNA was amplified by nested PCR targeting a 214-bp fragment of the 18S RNA gene. Enzymatic restriction sites were identified by bioinformatic analysis of all published Cryptosporidium 18S rRNA sequences. Experiments with spiked stool samples gave an estimated PCR detection limit of one oocyst. Specificity was assessed by testing 68 stool samples from patients with microscopically proven cryptosporidiosis and 31 Cryptosporidium-negative stools. Sixty-seven (98.5%) of the 68 stool samples from patients with microscopically proven cryptosporidiosis and 2 of the other stool samples were positive by PCR and could be genotyped. RFLP analysis identified 36 C. hominis, 19 C. parvum, 8 Cryptosporidium meleagridis, and 6 Cryptosporidium felis or Cryptosporidium canis samples. Species determination in 26 PCR-positive cases was in full agreement with DNA sequencing of the 18S rRNA hypervariable region. The excellent sensitivity of PCR, coupled with the accuracy of RFLP for species identification, make this method a suitable tool for routine diagnosis and genotyping of Cryptosporidium in stools.

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