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Clin Chem Lab Med. 2013 Feb;51(2):271-94.

Chronic Chagas disease: from basics to laboratory medicine.

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Pathobiochemie und Medizinische Chemie, Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Deutschland.


Chagas disease, caused by Trypanosoma cruzi infection, is ranked as the most serious parasitic disease in Latin America and has huge potential to become a worldwide problem, due to increasing migration, and international tourism, as well as infectant transfer by blood contact and transfusion, intrauterine transfer, and organ transplantation. Nearly 30% of chronically-infected patients become symptomatic, often with a latency of 10-30 years, developing life-threatening complications. Of those, nearly 90% develop Chagas heart disease, while the others manifest gastrointestinal disease and neuronal disorders. Besides interrupting the infection cycle and chemo therapeutic infectant elimination, starting therapy early in symptomatic patients is important for counteracting the disease. This would be essentially supported by optimized patient management, involving risk assessment, early diagnosis and monitoring of the disease and its treatment. From economic and logistic viewpoints, the tools of laboratory medicine should be especially able to guarantee this. After summarizing the basics of chronic Chagas disease, such as the epidemiological data, the pathogenetic mechanisms thought to drive symptomatic Chagas disease and also treatment options, we present tools of laboratory medicine that address patient diagnosis, risk assessment for becoming symptomatic and guidance, focusing on autoantibody estimation for risk assessment and heart marker measurement for patient guidance. In addition, increases in levels of inflammation and oxidative stress markers in chronic Chagas disease are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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