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Curr Microbiol. 2011 Apr;62(4):1225-9. doi: 10.1007/s00284-010-9781-4. Epub 2010 Dec 25.

Identification of Pythium insidiosum by nested PCR in cutaneous lesions of Brazilian horses and rabbits.

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Laboratório de Pesquisas Micológicas, Departamento de Microbiologia e Parasitologia, Centro de Ciências da Saúde, Universidade Federal de Santa Maria, Campus Universitário, Prédio 20, Sala 4139, Santa Maria, RS 97105-900, Brazil.


Pythium insidiosum is a fungus-like organism present in subtropical and tropical areas, such as Brazil, known to infect humans and various animal species. P. insidiosum is the etiological agent of pythiosis, an emerging and granulomatous disease characterized mainly by cutaneous and subcutaneous lesions in horses, the principal species affected. Accurate diagnosis of pythiosis and identification of its causal agent by microbiological and serological tests can be often difficult and inconclusive principally for horses and humans. The aim of this study was to evaluate the application of the previously described P. insidiosum-specific nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay to directly detect P. insidiosum DNA in clinical and experimental lesions. Universal fungal primers (ITS1 and ITS4) were used during the first-round of PCR to amplify ITS1, 5.8s, and ITS2. A second-round of PCR was conducted with P. insidiosum-specific primers (PI1 and PI2) to amplify a variable region within this ITS1. In this study, a total of 21 equine clinical samples (kunkers) and 28 specimens from experimentally infected rabbits were analyzed by nested PCR. The first-round of PCR generated 800-base pair products, and the second-round produced 105-base pair amplicons for each P. insidiosum-specific sample; no amplicons were generated in negative control samples. Our results suggest that nested PCR is an important and efficient tool for diagnosis of both endemic (horse samples) and experimental (rabbit samples) pythiosis.

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