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Rev Inst Med Trop Sao Paulo. 2002 Jan-Feb;44(1):29-37.

Long term evaluation of etiological treatment of chagas disease with benznidazole.

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Departamento de Clínica Médica, Faculdade de Medicina, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, MG, Brasil.


The aim of this article is to present an investigation of cure rate, after long follow up, of specific chemotherapy with benznidazole in patients with both acute and chronic Chagas disease, applying quantitative conventional serological tests as the base of the criterion of cure. Twenty one patients with the acute form and 113 with one or other of the various chronic clinical forms of the disease were evaluated, after a follow up period of 13 to 21 years, for the acute, and 6 to 18 years, for the chronic patients. The duration of the acute as well as the chronic disease, a condition which influences the results of the treatment, was determined. The therapeutic schedule was presented, with emphasis on the correlation between adverse reactions and the total dose of 18 grams, approximately, as well as taking into consideration precautions to assure the safety of the treatment. Quantitative serological reactions consisting of complement fixation, indirect immunofluorescence, indirect hemagglutination, and, occasionally, ELISA, were used. Cure was found in 76 per cent of the acute patients but only in 8 per cent of those with chronic forms of the disease. In the light of such contrasting results, fundamentals of the etiological therapy of Chagas disease were discussed, like the criterion of cure, the pathogenesis and the role of immunosuppression showing tissue parasitism in long standing chronic disease, in support of the concept that post-therapeutic consistently positive serological reactions mean the presence of the parasite in the patient's tissues. In relation to the life-cycle of T. cruzi in vertebrate host, there are still some obscure and controversial points, though there is no proof of the existence of resistant or latent forms. However, the finding over the last 15 years, that immunosuppression brings about the reappearance of acute disease in long stand chronic patients justifies a revision of the matter. Facts were quoted in favor of the treatment of chronic patients.

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