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J Heart Lung Transplant. 2000 Nov;19(11):1114-7.

Early diagnosis of recurrence of Trypanosoma cruzi infection by polymerase chain reaction after heart transplantation of a chronic Chagas' heart disease patient.

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Instituto de Investigaciones en Ingeniería Genética y Biología Molecular, Buenos Aires, Argentina.


Heart transplantation is contraindicated as an effective treatment for end-stage Chagas' heart disease because of post-operative recurrence of Trypanosoma cruzi infection and reactivation of disease after immunosupression. In a follow-up study of a heart transplanted patient with Chagas' disease, we prospectively evaluated the usefulness of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for early diagnosis of reactivation. We monitored post-operative recurrence of Trypanosoma cruzi infection with microscopic observation of the parasite in peripheral blood (Strout's method), endomyocardial biopsies (EMBs), skin lesions, and 2 PCR assays, based on the amplification of specific T cruzi kinetoplastid and nuclear DNA sequences. During follow-up, parasite DNA was amplified in blood samples and EMB sections 41 days before we observed patent parasitemia and cutaneous manifestations of reactivation, proving that PCR is much more sensitive than direct microscopic observation for early diagnosis of disease reactivation in heart-transplanted Chagas' disease patients.

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