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Rev Soc Bras Med Trop. 2013 May-Jun;46(3):310-5. doi: 10.1590/0037-8682-0046-2013.

Comparison of conventional serology and PCR methods for the routine diagnosis of Trypanosoma cruzi infection.

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  • 1Programa de Pós-Graduação em Processos Biotecnológicos, Universidade Federal do Paraná, Curitiba, PR, Brazil.



Trypanosoma cruzi, a flagellated protozoan, is the etiologic agent of Chagas disease, and it is estimated that approximately 5 million people in Brazil are infected with this parasite. This work aimed to compare the current diagnostic methods for Chagas disease, including conventional serological (IFAT and ELISA) and molecular techniques (PCR), to introduce PCR as an auxiliary technique.


A total of 106 chagasic patients were evaluated: 88 from endemic areas of Parana, 6 from São Paulo, 3 from Minas Gerais, 3 from Rio Grande do Sul, 1 from Bahia and 5 from the Santa Catarina T. cruzi outbreak. The samples were analyzed by conventional serological methods (IFAT, ELISA), hemoculture and PCR to confirm Chagas disease.


When IFAT was used to determine antibody levels, the sensitivity was 81.7% for patients with the cardiac form of the disease and 100% for the other clinical forms. In contrast, ELISA showed 84% sensitivity and 100% specificity. The use of serological and molecular techniques and their implications for the diagnosis of Chagas disease in non-endemics area are discussed.


PCR constitutes an excellent support methodology for the laboratory diagnosis of Chagas disease due to its high sensitivity and specificity.

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