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Clin Microbiol Rev. 2000 Jan;13(1):35-54, table of contents.

Immune response to Giardia duodenalis.

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Institute of Parasitology, Macdonald Campus of McGill University, Ste. Anne-de-Bellevue, Qu¿ebec, Canada H9X 3V9.


The intestinal protozoan Giardia duodenalis is a widespread opportunistic parasite of humans and animals. This parasite inhabits the upper part of the small intestine and has a direct life cycle. After ingestion of cysts, which are the infective stage, the trophozoites emerge from the cysts in the duodenum and attach to the small intestinal mucosa of the host. Since the migration of trophozoites from the lumen of the intestine into surrounding tissues is an unusual occurrence, the immune response to Giardia remains localized. The identification of antigens that play a role in acquired immunity has been difficult because of the occurrence of antigenic variation and because, Giardia being an ubiquitous organism, it is possible that the antigenic profiles of isolates from different geographic areas will vary. Innate-immunity mechanisms play a role in the control and/or severity of the infection. Both humoral and cell-mediated immune responses play a role in acquired immunity, but the mechanisms involved are unknown. A variety of serological assays have been used to detect circulating antibodies in serum. Because of the biological characteristics of the parasite and the lack of suitable antigens, the sensitivity of serological assays remains poor. On the other hand, detection of antigens in feces of infected patients has met with success. Commercial kits are available, and they are reported to be more sensitive than microscopic examination for the detection of giardiasis on a single specimen.

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