Acanthamoeba, one of free-living amoebae (FLA), remains a high risk of direct contact with this protozoan parasite which is ubiquitous in nature and man-made environment. This pathogenic FLA can cause sight-threatening amoebic keratitis (AK) and fatal granulomatous amoebic encephalitis (GAE) though these cases may not commonly be reported in our clinical settings. Acanthamoeba has been detected from different environmental sources namely; soil, water, hot-spring, swimming pool, air-conditioner, or contact lens storage cases. The identification of Acanthamoeba is based on morphological appearance and molecular techniques using PCR and DNA sequencing for clinico-epidemiological purposes. Recent treatments have long been ineffective against Acanthamoeba cyst, novel anti-Acanthamoeba agents have therefore been extensively investigated. There are efforts to utilize synthetic chemicals, lead compounds from medicinal plant extracts, and animal products to combat Acanthamoeba infection. Applied nanotechnology, an advanced technology, has shown to enhance the anti-Acanthamoeba activity in the encapsulated nanoparticles leading to new therapeutic options. This review attempts to provide an overview of the available data and studies on the occurrence of pathogenic Acanthamoeba among the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members with the aim of identifying some potential contributing factors such as distribution, demographic profile of the patients, possible source of the parasite, mode of transmission and treatment. Further, this review attempts to provide future direction for prevention and control of the Acanthamoeba infection.
Balamuthia mandrillaris is a protist pathogen that can cause encephalitis with a mortality rate of more than 95%. Early diagnosis followed by aggressive treatment is a pre-requisite for successful prognosis. Current methods for identifying this organism rely on culture and microscopy, antibody-based methods using animals, or involve the use of molecular tools that are expensive. Here, we describe the isolation of antibody fragments that can be used for the unequivocal identification of B. mandrillaris. B. mandrillaris-specific antibody fragments were isolated from a bacteriophage antibody display library. Individual clones were studied by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, and immunofluorescence. Four antibody clones showed specific binding to B. mandrillaris. The usefulness of phage antibody display technology as a diagnostic tool for isolating antibody fragments against B. mandrillaris antigens and studying their biological role(s) is discussed further.
Amebiasis is a frequently occurring parasitic infection in South East Asia. We present a case of a 54-year-old man with right lower quadrant abdominal pain that persisted for longer than 1 year. He had been diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease in Indonesia. His abdominal pain persisted, despite therapy, and he visited Malaysia for transnational medical advice. Abdominal ultrasound showed fatty liver, gallbladder polyps, and a small left renal stone. Colonoscopy showed multiple ulcers in the cecum and a histopathological examination confirmed amebic infection of the cecum. The colonic ulcers subsided after anti-amebic treatment. This case highlights the need to consider the differential diagnosis of amebic colitis in patients presenting with manifestations of inflammatory bowel disease, especially in patients who live in or have traveled to endemic areas.
Is Acanthamoeba sp. normally found in the eyes? A study was carried out to establish the possibility of Acanthamoeba sp. as a part of the normal conjunctival flora. Conjunctiva swabbing were carried out in 286 healthy Orang Asli school children using sterile cotton swab. The swab was then inoculated onto non-nutrient agar (NN-A). Heat killed Escherichia coli that was used as food source for the growth of the amoebae was pipetted onto and away from the smear. The plates were incubated at 30 degrees C and examined daily using an inverted microscope for 14 days. Morphology of the trophozoites and cysts of the amoebae were used as the taxonomic criteria for identification. Positive-controls and negative-controls were done to check for the consistency of the technique used and monitoring of contamination respectively. None of the conjunctiva swab cultured was positive for Acanthamoeba sp. This finding may indicate that Acanthamoeba sp. is not part of normal conjunctival flora or conjunctiva swab is an insensitive technique to isolate the organism. However, a more extensive research is needed to investigate these possibilities.
Pathogenic free-living amoebae including Acanthamoeba spp., Balamuthia mandrillaris, and Naegleria fowleri cause infections of the central nervous system (CNS), which almost always prove fatal. The mortality rate is high with the CNS infections caused by these microbes despite modern developments in healthcare and antimicrobial chemotherapy. The low awareness, delayed diagnosis, and lack of effective drugs are major hurdles to overcome these challenges. Nanomaterials have emerged as vital tools for concurrent diagnosis and therapy, which are commonly referred to as theranostics. Nanomaterials offer highly sensitive diagnostic systems and viable therapeutic effects as a single modality. There has been good progress to develop nanomaterials based efficient theranostic systems against numerous kinds of tumors, but this field is yet immature in the context of infectious diseases, particularly parasitic infections. Herein, we describe the potential value of theranostic applications of nanomaterials against brain infections due to pathogenic amoebae.
Pathogenic free-living amoeba are known to cause a devastating infection of the central nervous system and are often referred to as "brain-eating amoebae". The mortality rate of more than 90% and free-living nature of these amoebae is a cause for concern. It is distressing that the mortality rate has remained the same over the past few decades, highlighting the lack of interest by the pharmaceutical industry. With the threat of global warming and increased outdoor activities of public, there is a need for renewed interest in identifying potential anti-amoebic compounds for successful prognosis. Here, we discuss the available chemotherapeutic options and opportunities for potential strategies in the treatment and diagnosis of these life-threatening infections.
Independent evaluations of XEh Rapid®, an IgG4-based rapid dipstick test, were performed to assess its diagnostic performance to detect amebic liver abscess (ALA) using 405 samples at seven laboratories in four countries. The test showed high diagnostic specificity (97-100%) when tested with samples from healthy individuals (n = 100) and patients with other diseases (n = 151). The diagnostic sensitivity was tested with a total of 154 samples, and the results were variable. It was high in three laboratories (89-94%), and moderate (72%) and low (38%) in two other laboratories. Challenges and issues faced in the evaluation process are discussed. Nevertheless, XEh Rapid is promising to be developed into a point-of-care test in particular for resource-limited settings, and thus merits further confirmation of its diagnostic sensitivity.