We discuss the diagnostic challenge in an adult patient presented with purely ocular symptoms diagnosed with tuberculous meningitis (TBM). A 38-year-old woman presented with bilateral painless blurring of vision. There were bilateral sixth cranial nerve palsy and bilateral optic disc swelling. Optic nerve function tests were normal. Patient was lucid with no signs of meningism. Brain imaging were normal. She had a positive Mantoux test, high erythrocyte sedimentation rate but no clinical evidence of active pulmonary tuberculosis infection. Her Quantiferon-TB Gold in-tube test was negative. Cerebrospinal fluid analysis revealed a high opening pressure but no biochemical parameters to suggest TBM, hence she was treated as idiopathic intracranial hypertension. A diagnosis of TBM was finally made following a positive PCR for Mycobacterium tuberculosis Her vision improved with reduction in optic disc swelling following antituberculous treatment.
Blastocystis sp. is known to be the most commonly found intestinal protozoan parasite in human fecal surveys and has been incriminated to cause diarrhea and abdominal bloating. Binary fission has been widely accepted as the plausible mode of reproduction for this parasite. The present study demonstrates that subjecting the parasites in vitro to higher temperature shows the proliferation of parasite numbers in cultures. Transmission electron microscopy was used to compare the morphology of Blastocystis sp. subtype 3 isolated from a dengue patient having high fever (in vivo thermal stress) and Blastocystis sp. 3 maintained at 41 °C (in vitro thermal stress) and 37 °C (control). Fluorescence stains like acridine orange (AO) and 4',6'-diamino-2-phenylindole (DAPI) were used to demonstrate the viability and nuclear content of the parasite for both the in vitro and in vivo thermal stress groups of parasites. Blastocystis sp. at 37 °C was found to be mostly vacuolar whereas the in vitro thermal stressed isolates at 41 °C were granular with electron dense material seen to protect the granules within the central body. Parasites of the in vivo thermal stressed group showed similar ultrastructure as the in vitro ones. AO and DAPI staining provided evidence that these granules are viable which develop into progenies of Blastocystis sp. These granular forms were then observed to rupture and release progenies from the mother cells whilst the peripheral cytoplasmic walls were seen to degrade. Upon exposure to high temperature both in vitro and in vivo, Blastocystis sp. in cultures show higher number of granular forms seen to be protected by the electron dense material within the central body possibly acting as a protective mechanism. This is possibly to ensure the ability to survive for the granules to be developed as viable progenies for release into the host system.
Protistan parasites in order to ensure their viability and demonstrate successful progression in their life cycle need to respond towards various environmental stressors. Blastocystis sp. is known to be the most commonly found intestinal protistan parasite in any human stool surveys and has been incriminated to be responsible for diarrhea and bloating stomach. The present study demonstrates for the first time the presence of HSP70 in subtypes of Blastocystis sp. when the cultures were subjected to temperature of 39 and 41 °C where the growth of parasites was reduced to a minimum to majority being granular forms. The growth of parasites exposed to higher temperatures however doubled compared to the controls when the parasites were re-cultured back at 37 °C. Upon thermal stress at 41 °C, subtype 3 and subtype 5 isolates' growth reached up to 2.97 × 10(6) and 3.05 × 10(6) cells/ml compared to their respective controlled culture tubes at 37 °C which peaked only at 1.34 × 10(6) and 1.70 × 10(6) cells/ml respectively. The designed primer set that amplified Blastocystis sp. subtype 7 HSP70 gene in subtypes 1, 3 and 5 was against a conserved region. The gene was amplified at 318 bp. The multiple sequence alignment showed that the targeted sequence length ranges from 291-295 bp. The pair wise alignment result showed that the sequence identity among the four sequence ranges from 88% to 96%. These findings were further evidenced by the up regulation of HSP70 gene in thermal stressed isolates of subtype 3 and 5 at 41 °C. Higher number of granular forms was significantly found in thermal stressed isolates of subtype 3 and 5 which implicates that this life cycle stage has a role in responding to thermal stress.
Trichomonas vaginalis, a flagellated protozoan parasite causes a variety of adverse health consequences in both men and women. The parasite exists in the trophozoite and the pseudocystic stage. The study reports for the first time that pseudocyst forms of T. vaginalis isolated from cervical neoplasia (CN) patients demonstrated distinct, different and significant in vitro growth profiles when grown in vitro cultures from day 1 up to day 5 (p<0.05, Mann-Whitney test) when compared with the same life cycle stages isolated from non-cervical neoplasia but symptomatic patients (NCN). Pseudocysts from CN and NCN isolates remained viable in distilled water until 3 h 10 min and 2 h 10 min, respectively. The nucleus of pseudocysts in CN isolates using acridine orange and DAPI showed more intense staining revealing higher nuclear content. The FITC-labeled Concanavalin A stained stronger green fluorescence with surface of pseudocysts in CN isolates showing more rough and creased surface with higher numbers of deep micropores with larger numbers of chromatin masses, vacuoles, and hydrogenosomes. The study confirms that pseudocystic stage from CN, despite the uniformity in appearance of being rounded and showing no motility without a true cyst wall under light microscopy, demonstrated different biochemical, surface, and ultrastructural properties. The study provides evidence that phenotypic variant forms of pseudocysts does exist and possibly does play a role in exacerbating cervical cancer.
In this study 24 patients who had conventional erect lateral X-ray pelvimetry had a CT pelvimetry done after delivery to complete the pelvimetry views. The erect lateral pelvimetry was read independently by a Consultant Radiologist, Consultant Obstetrician and a Medical Officer training in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Using CT pelvimetry as the 'gold standard' (as the error of measurement was known with the machine used) the 3 readings were compared. There was no statistical difference in the values suggesting that X-ray pelvimetry is comparable to CT pelvimetry. However CT pelvimetry is preferred, if available, because of the lower dose of radiation involved, more comfort for the patient and shorter time in performing the procedure. Measurements done are easily read directly from the CT console.
Polymyxin B and colistin (polymyxin E) were introduced in clinical practice to treat Gram-negative infections in 1950s but their parenteral use waned in 1970s due to toxicity concerns. Resurgence of polymyxins use in Malaysia began approximately in 2009 due to a lack of treatment options for MDR Gram negative superbugs such as Acinetobacter baumannii, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. However, limited experience and a lack of widespread availability of up-to-date dosing guidelines could potentially result in incorrect use of these last resort antibiotics by managing doctors. The recent report of polymyxin resistant strains is also a cause of concern. Herein, we discuss the importance of preserving the efficacy of polymyxins in hospitals, the similarities and differences between polymyxin B and colistin, issues pertaining to current use of polymxyins and strategies to improve polymyxins' prescription. Polymyxins should only be used to treat significant infections, in optimum doses and if possible, in combination with other antibiotics.
Blastocystis hominis has been regarded as an enigmatic parasite as many aspects of its basic biology remain uncertain. Many reproductive processes have been suggested for the organism; however, to date, only the binary fission has been proven. Plasmotomy is one of the modes of reproduction previously suggested to be seen in in vitro cultures. The present study provides trichrome and acridine orange staining evidence for the existence of nucleic acid suggestive of division of nucleus into multinucleate forms with the respective cytoplasm dividing giving rise to two or three progeny B. hominis. Transmission electron micrographs further confirmed that these daughter cells had respective surrounding surface coat, mitochondria, and vacuoles.
The amoeboid form of Blastocystis hominis has been reported infrequently, and its morphological descriptions have yielded conflicting and confusing reports. In the present study, we used the amoeboid forms seen predominantly in symptomatic patients infected with Blastocystis to provide detailed descriptions on the fine surface structure and intracellular morphology. Scanning electron microscopy revealed the irregular shape of the amoeboid form, with an intercalated fibrillar structure and a highly convoluted surface with deep indentations and projected pseudopodia. Transmission electron microscopy showed the existence of two types of amoeboid forms of B. hominis in in vitro culture, one with a large central vacuole containing tiny electron-dense particles while the other contains multiple small vacuoles in the cytoplasm. A surface coat with varying thickness surrounded the amoeboid form, which also showed prominent, extended pseudopodia of varying shape. Irregularly shaped mitochondrion-like organelles with prominent cristae, lipid inclusions, and multiple vacuoles were frequently seen in close proximity with the pseudopodia. The characteristic nucleus with a crescentic band of electron-dense chromatin material was also seen.
Blastocystis hominis is one of the most common human parasites that inhabit the intestinal tract. Conflicting reports continue to exist regarding the existence and the functional role of the amoeboid forms in the life cycle of the parasite. The present study investigates the presence of these forms in 20 isolates obtained from ten symptomatic and asymptomatic patients respectively. A total of 10,000 parasite cells per ml from each isolate were inoculated into three culture tubes each containing 3 ml of Jones' medium supplemented with 10% horse serum, incubated at 37 degrees C. The contents were examined daily for 10 days. Irregular and polymorphic amoeboid forms with multiple extended pseudopodia were observed in all isolates from symptomatic patients, while none of the isolates from asymptomatic patients showed the presence of the amoeboid forms. The amoeboid forms were initially noted on day 2 and the percentages increased from 2% to 28%, with peak percentages from day 3 to day 6. Transmission electron microscopy revealed two types of amoeboid forms; one containing a large central vacuole completely filled with tiny electron-dense granules, and the other which revealed multiple small vacuoles within the central body. The cytoplasm contained strands of electron-dense granules resembling rough endoplasmatic reticulum, which is suggestive of active protein synthesis. The surface coat of the amoeboid form surrounding the parasite showed uneven thickness. Acridine orange stained the central body yellow and the periphery orange, indicating activity at the level of nucleic acids. The amoeboid form could either be an indicator of pathogenicity of B. hominis, or the form likely to contribute to pathogenicity and be responsible for the symptoms seen in patients.
Isolates of Blastocystis hominis from infected immigrant workers from Indonesia, Bangladesh and infected individuals from Singapore and Malaysia were assessed for growth pattern and degree of resistance to different concentrations of metronidazole. Viability of the cells was assessed using eosin-brillian cresyl blue which stained viable cells green and nonviable cells red. The Bangladeshi and Singaporean isolates were nonviable even at the lowest concentration of 0.01 mg/ml, whereas 40% of the initial inoculum of parasites from the Indonesian isolate at day one were still viable in cultures with 1.0 mg/ml metronidazole. The study shows that isolates of B. hominis of different geographical origin have different levels of resistance to metronidazole. The search for more effective drugs to eliminate th parasite appears inevitable, especially since surviving parasites from metronidazole cultures show greater ability to multiply in subcultures than controls.
We previously reported that Modified Field Stain (MF) can be used as a rapid stain for diagnosis. In the present study we extend the observation to include the stain as an alternative method to assess viability of the cells.
Blastocystis cysts were detected in 38% (47/123) (37 Scottish, 17 Malaysian) of sewage treatment works. Fifty percent of influents (29% Scottish, 76% Malaysian) and 28% of effluents (9% Scottish, 60% Malaysian) contained viable cysts. Viable cysts, discharged in effluent, provide further evidence for the potential for waterborne transmission of Blastocystis.
Thirty in vitro serial passages of Toxoplasman gondii cultures in Vero cell line performed once in every five days had a mean increase in parasite count of 74.4 +/- 14.8 times from that of initial counts. Long term cultures in Vero cell line did not alter the virulence of the parasite. The good correlation (r = 0.99) between the IFA titer and ELISA OD values using the parasite antigens from in vitro sources indicates that long term maintenance of T. gondii in culture does not affect significantly the ability to recognize antibodies to surface and soluble antigens. The results also show that soluble antigens containing host cells can be directly used for immunodiagnostic purposes without purification. The in vitro maintenance of T. gondii is safer and cheaper when compared to the in vivo method.
The role and function of the granular life cycle stage in Blastocystis sp, remains uncertain despite suggestions being made that the granules are metabolic, reproductive and lipid in nature. This present study aims to understand granular formation by triggering apoptosis in Blastocystis sp. by treating them with metronidazole (MTZ). Blastocystis sp.cultures of 4 sub-types namely 1, 2, 3 and 5 when treated with 0.01 and 0.0001 mg/ml of metronidazole (MTZ) respectively showed many of the parasites to be both viable and apoptotic (VA). Treated subtype 3 isolates exhibited the highest number of granular forms i.e. 88% (p<0.001) (0.0001 mg/ml) and 69% (p<0.01) (0.01 mg/ml) respectively at the 72 h in in vitro culture compared to other subtypes. These VA forms showed distinct granules using acridine orange (AO) and 4',6-diamino-2-phenylindole (DAPI) staining with a mean per cell ranging from 5 in ST 5 to as high as 16 in ST 3. These forms showed intact mitochondria in both viable apoptotic (VA) and viable non-apoptotic (VNA) cells with a pattern of accumulation of lipid droplets corresponding to viable cells. Granular VA forms looked ultra-structurally different with prominent presence of mitochondria-like organelle (MLO) and a changed mitochondrial trans-membrane potential with thicker membrane and a highly convoluted inner membrane than the less dense non-viable apoptotic (NVA) cells. This suggests that granular formation during apoptosis is a self-regulatory mechanism to produce higher number of viable cells in response to treatment. This study directs the need to search novel chemotherapeutic approaches by incorporating these findings when developing drugs against the emerging Blastocystis sp. infections.
Blastocystis hominis is one of the most common intestinal protozoan parasites in humans, and reports have shown that blastocystosis is coupled with intestinal disorders. In the past, researchers have developed an in vitro model using B. hominis culture filtrates to investigate its ability in triggering inflammatory cytokine responses and transcription factors in human colonic epithelial cells. Studies have also correlated the inflammation by parasitic infection with cancer. The present study provides evidence of the parasite facilitating cancer cell growth through observing the cytopathic effect, cellular immunomodulation, and apoptotic responses of B. hominis, especially in malignancy. Here we investigated the effect of solubilized antigen from B. hominis on cell viability, using peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and human colorectal carcinoma cells (HCT116). The gene expressions of cytokines namely interleukin 6 (IL-6), IL-8, tumor necrosis factor alpha, interferon gamma, nuclear factor kappa light-chain enhancer of activated B cells (a gene transcription factor), and proapoptotic genes namely protein 53 and cathepsin B were also studied. Results exhibited favor the fact that antigen from B. hominis, at a certain concentration, could facilitate the growth of HCT116 while having the ability to downregulate immune cell responses (PBMCs). Therefore, there is a vital need to screen colorectal cancer patients for B. hominis infection as it possesses the ability to enhance the tumor growth.
Numerous studies have revealed the presence of oxidative stress in parasitic infections. However, such studies were lacking in the Malaysian population. Previously, we have provided evidence that oxidative stress is elevated in Malaysians infected with intestinal parasites. Stool examinations revealed that about 47.5% of them were infected with the polymorphic protozoa, Blastocystis hominis. However, they were found to have mixed infection with other intestinal parasites.