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Parasitol Res. 2011 Aug;109(2):321-7. doi: 10.1007/s00436-011-2259-x. Epub 2011 Jan 29.

Proteaese activity of Blastocystis hominis subtype3 in symptomatic and asymptomatic patients.

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Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine, Ain Shams University, 13 B Kornesh El Neel, Aghkhan, Shobra, Cairo, Egypt.


Despite accumulating evidence indicating that Blastocystis hominis is pathogenic and that cysteine proteases are involved in its pathogenesis, few researches discussed the protease activity of B. hominis genetic subtypes. Therefore, the present study aims to identify the underlying pathogenic role of the proteases of B. hominis subtype 3 at different molecular weights in correlation to gastrointestinal symptoms. Of 65 patients with various clinical presentations referred to our laboratory for stool examination, 26 (40%) were B. hominis positive by stool culture. Of 26 (group I) B. hominis patients, 18 (69.2%) were symptomatic (group IA) and 8(30.8%) were asymptomatic (group IB). Of 25 normal control group (group II), 5 (20%) were B. hominis positive. Subtype 3 was the only genotype recovered by polymerase chain reaction. Of 26 patients in group I, 19 (73.1%) were immunocompetent and 7 (26.9%) were immunocompromised. Protease activities of B. hominis subtype 3 were recognized at 32-kDa (46.2%), 39-kDa (7.7%), 120-kDa (38.5%), 140-kDa (11.5%), and 215-kDa (19.2%) bands in gelatin sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE). Proteases were recognized in 17 (94.4%) out of 18 symptomatic Blastocystis patients versus 2 (25.0%) out of 8 asymptomatic patients. Proteases at 32 kDa were reported in 61.1% of symptomatic versus 12.5% of asymptomatic patients. It was concluded that proteases of B. hominis genetic subtype 3, particularly those at 32 kDa, could be considered a virulence factor that is responsible for protein degradation and have a possible pathogenic role in host immune evasion.

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