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Am J Pathol. 1997 Apr;150(4):1395-405.

Identification of an Enterocytozoon bieneusi-like microsporidian parasite in simian-immunodeficiency-virus-inoculated macaques with hepatobiliary disease.

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New England Regional Primate Research Center, Harvard Medical School, Southborough, MA 01772, USA.


Enterocytozoon bieneusi is a common opportunistic pathogen of human patients with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) causing significant morbidity and mortality. In a retrospective analysis utilizing conventional histochemical techniques, in situ hybridization, polymerase chain reaction, and ultrastructural examination, we identified 18 simian-immunodeficiency-virus-infected macaques (16 Macaca mulatta, 1 M. nemestrina, and 1 M. cyclopis) with Enterocytozoon infection of the hepatobiliary system and small intestine. The organisms were readily identified in the bile ducts and gall bladder by special stains and by in situ hybridization using a probe directed against the small subunit ribosomal RNA of human origin E. bieneusi. Infection of the biliary system was associated with a nonsuppurative and proliferative cholecystitis and choledochitis. Hepatic involvement was characterized by bridging portal fibrosis and nodular hepatocellular regeneration accompanied by marked bile ductular and septal duct hyperplasia. Ultrastructurally, all developmental stages of the organism were found in direct contact with the host cell cytoplasm; spores and sporoblasts contained a double layer of polar tubes. Sequencing of a 607-bp segment of the small subunit ribosomal RNA revealed 97 and 100% identity to two clones of small subunit ribosomal RNA derived from E. bieneusi of human origin. Extensive morphological and genetic similarities between the simian and human enterocytozoons suggest that experimentally infected macaques may serve as a useful model of microsporidial infection in AIDS.

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