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Lancet. 1991 Apr 13;337(8746):895-8.

Clinical significance of small-intestinal microsporidiosis in HIV-1-infected individuals.

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Department of Internal Medicine, N.H. Swellengrebel Laboratory of Tropical Hygiene, Royal Tropical Institute, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


To assess the importance of microsporidiosis of the small intestine in the pathogenesis of chronic diarrhoea in HIV-1-infected individuals, duodenal biopsy samples from the following three patient groups were prospectively evaluated for bacterial, viral, and parasitic pathogens by standard methods, and for microsporidia by light microscopy: 55 consecutive HIV-1-antibody-positive subjects with unexplained diarrhoea of at least 3 weeks duration (group A); 38 HIV-1-seropositive subjects without diarrhoea (group B) who consecutively underwent upper gastrointestinal endoscopy for various reasons; and 7 patients without known risk factors for HIV infection with chronic unexplained diarrhoea (group C). In groups A and B most subjects had had previous AIDS-defining opportunistic infections and the median peripheral blood CD4 lymphocyte count was less than 0.1 x 10(9)/l. Microsporidia were detected as the single pathogen in 15 of the group A compared with 1 (in whom diarrhoea subsequently developed) of the group B patients (p = 0.001) and none of the group C patients. With the exception of 4 of the group A patients, no other intestinal pathogens were identified in any of the patients. The median peripheral blood CD4 count was significantly lower in patients with detectable microsporidia than in those without microsporidiosis (0.03 x 10(9)/l vs 0.06 x 10(9)/l; p = 0.03); in all patients with microsporidiosis, the CD4 count was equal to or less than 0.1 x 10(9)/l. 13 patients with microsporidiosis were treated with metronidazole, in 10 of whom treatment led to a substantial improvement or disappearance of diarrhoea within days of starting therapy, but did not result in eradication of the parasite in the 5 patients who underwent repeat biopsy. The findings suggest that small-intestinal microsporidiosis is an important cause of chronic unexplained diarrhoea in HIV-1-infected individuals with pronounced cellular immune deficiency. This infection should therefore be added to the list of AIDS-defining opportunistic infections.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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