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Clin Microbiol Rev. 2008 Oct;21(4):639-65. doi: 10.1128/CMR.00022-08.

New insights on classification, identification, and clinical relevance of Blastocystis spp.

Author information

  • Department of Microbiology, Laboratory of Molecular and Cellular Parasitology, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Republic of Singapore. mictank@nus.edu.sg

Abstract

SUMMARY:

Blastocystis is an unusual enteric protozoan parasite of humans and many animals. It has a worldwide distribution and is often the most commonly isolated organism in parasitological surveys. The parasite has been described since the early 1900s, but only in the last decade or so have there been significant advances in our understanding of Blastocystis biology. However, the pleomorphic nature of the parasite and the lack of standardization in techniques have led to confusion and, in some cases, misinterpretation of data. This has hindered laboratory diagnosis and efforts to understand its mode of reproduction, life cycle, prevalence, and pathogenesis. Accumulating epidemiological, in vivo, and in vitro data strongly suggest that Blastocystis is a pathogen. Many genotypes exist in nature, and recent observations indicate that humans are, in reality, hosts to numerous zoonotic genotypes. Such genetic diversity has led to a suggestion that previously conflicting observations on the pathogenesis of Blastocystis are due to pathogenic and nonpathogenic genotypes. Recent epidemiological, animal infection, and in vitro host-Blastocystis interaction studies suggest that this may indeed be the case. This review focuses on such recent advances and also provides updates on laboratory and clinical aspects of Blastocystis spp.

PMID:
18854485
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2570156
Free PMC Article

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