Showing posts with label paromomycin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label paromomycin. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Dying to know about Dientamoeba?

It's difficult to say 'Blastocystis' without saying 'Dientamoeba fragilis'. Both parasites tend to be extremely common in countries where other intestinal parasites (e.g. Entamoeba, Giardia, Cryptosporidium) are of low endemic occurrence, and they are often seen together in patient samples. It is only due to the recent introduction of DNA-based diagnostic methods (PCR) that we now know that these parasites are much more common than previously anticipated.

So, while I'm trying to encourage guest bloggers, I thought I'd introduce a 'guest star' - Dientamoeba!

Dientamoeba fragilis trophozoites with the characteristic binucleated feature.
The parasite belongs to the trichomonads, which also comprise parasites such as Histomonas meleagridis (the cause of 'blackhead disease' in turkeys) and - more distantly - Trichomonas vaginalis.

At our Parasitology Lab at Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen we have been using real-time PCR for specific detection of Dientamoeba fragilis in faecal samples from patients with gastrointestinal symptoms for quite a few years now. In the period of 2008-2011 we analysed 22,484 stool samples for D. fragilis. The overall prevalence of the parasite in these samples was 43% but depended mainly on age (Figure 1). D. fragilis prevalence appears to fluctuate dramatically depending on the age group. Highest prevalence was seen among 7-year-olds, and a second 'peak' is seen in the parental age suggesting that infected children pass on infections to their parents. 

Figure 1:  Prevalence of D. fragilis as a function of age. (For more information, see Röser et al., 2013b).

Intestinal protozoa are transmitted faecal-orally and most of them have a cyst stage. However, a few protozoa appear not to have a cyst stage, among them D. fragilis. There is a lot of evidence that Histomonas meleagridis is transmitted by eggs of Heterakis gallinae, a nematode of galliform birds. Conspicuously, we recently demonstrated the presence of D. fragilis DNA in surface-sterilised eggs of Enterobius vermicularis (pinworm). The implications of this finding are unclear but could suggest a similar vector-borne transmission of D. fragilis.

As in so many other situations it is not possible to dish out simple guidelines as to when to test for and treat D. fragilis. It is clear that many carriers experience few or no symptoms at all, but there are several case reports demonstrating symptom relief in patients eradicated of D. fragilis. We published one such case recently in 'Ugeskrift for Læger' - the journal of the Danish Medical Association. Basically, the report describes lasting symptom relief after documented eradication of D. fragilis using high dose metronidazole. However, the patient's symptoms returned after a year, and  real-time PCR revealed D. fragilis positive stools. Eradication was achieved using paromomycin (250 mg x 3 for nine days).

Contrary to Blastocystis, this parasite exhibits remarkably limited genetic diversity. We recently analysed three different genetic loci (18S, actin, elongation factor 1-alpha), and we confirmed that only 2 genotypes exist, one of which is very rare. Genetically, however, the two genotypes are quite different, and it will be interesting to compare the nuclear genomes of the two, once they have become available.

Dientamoeba has been speculated to be a neglected cause/differential diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). We once found a statistical significant association between IBS and Dientamoeba; however, other more recent and more targeted studies (one of which is ongoing) have not confirmed this association. However, multiple factors could interact and analysing only simple associations such as symptoms related to parasite presence/absence may be a limiting approach; for instance, infection load/intensity may play a role, and other factors such as host genetics/susceptibility and microbiota ecology may be significant factors influencing on clinical outcome as well. On that note, we have observed some very low Ct values in our real-time PCR results for some of our D. fragilis positive patients, suggesting massive infections. D. fragilis infections are probably often long lasting (months), and if symptoms appear in the initial phase of infection only, cross-sectional studies of prevalence and clinical presentation will be potentially misleading. Large longitudinal cohort studies of pre-school children with monitoring of incidence of pinworm and D. fragilis infections would be extremely informative.

Dr Dennis Röser here at the SSI is currently finishing a randomised controlled treatment trial of D. fragilis in children, testing the clinical efficacy of metronidazole treatment versus placebo. Results are expected next year, so watch out for a 'D. fragilis special' by Dr Röser in 2014! It appears a lot easier to eradicate D. fragilis than Blastocystis - at least on a short term basis with metronidazole having an efficacy of about 70% or so (unconfirmed).

A couple of reviews free for download are available; please see literature list below or go here and here.

Suggested literature

Engsbro AL, Stensvold CR, Nielsen HV, & Bytzer P (2012). Treatment of Dientamoeba fragilis in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 87 (6), 1046-52 PMID: 23091195   

Johnson EH, Windsor JJ, & Clark CG (2004). Emerging from obscurity: biological, clinical, and diagnostic aspects of Dientamoeba fragilis. Clinical Microbiology Reviews, 17 (3) PMID: 15258093

Ogren J, Dienus O, Löfgren S, Iveroth P, & Matussek A (2013). Dientamoeba fragilis DNA detection in Enterobius vermicularis eggs. Pathogens and Disease PMID: 23893951  

Röser D, Nejsum P, Carlsgart AJ, Nielsen HV, & Stensvold CR (2013a). DNA of Dientamoeba fragilis detected within surface-sterilized eggs of Enterobius vermicularis. Experimental Parasitology, 133 (1), 57-61 PMID: 23116599   

Röser D, Simonsen J, Nielsen HV, Stensvold CR, & Mølbak K (2013b). Dientamoeba fragilis in Denmark: epidemiological experience derived from four years of routine real-time PCR. European Journal of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases : official publication of the European Society of Clinical Microbiology, 32 (10), 1303-10 PMID: 23609513  

Stark DJ, Beebe N, Marriott D, Ellis JT, & Harkness J (2006). Dientamoebiasis: clinical importance and recent advances. Trends in Parasitology, 22 (2), 92-6 PMID: 16380293  

Stark D, Barratt J, Roberts T, Marriott D, Harkness J, & Ellis J (2010). A review of the clinical presentation of dientamoebiasis. The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 82 (4), 614-9 PMID: 20348509

Stensvold CR, Clark CG, & Röser D (2013). Limited intra-genetic diversity in Dientamoeba fragilis housekeeping genes. Infection, Genetics and Evolution : journal of molecular epidemiology and evolutionary genetics in infectious diseases, 18, 284-6 PMID: 23681023

Stensvold CR, Lewis HC, Hammerum AM, Porsbo LJ, Nielsen SS, Olsen KE, Arendrup MC, Nielsen HV, & Mølbak K (2009). Blastocystis: unravelling potential risk factors and clinical significance of a common but neglected parasite. Epidemiology and infection, 137 (11), 1655-63 PMID: 19393117

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Blastocystis Highlights 2012

2012 is coming to an end and it is also time for taking stock of the year Blastocystis-wise. We saw many significant scientific papers, among them a paper by Poirier and colleagues, predicting a potential role for Blastocystis in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), based on analysis of their recent genome data.They propose that Blastocystis is genetically armed with the equipment necessary to cause intestinal dysbiosis, and potentially IBS, which may be a cause of dysbiosis. Indeed, members of this group found that the Blastocystis genome encodes various proteases and hydrolases that, if secreted, may be involved with perturbations of the gut flora; however, we need transcriptional profiling or similar studies to find out, whether these enzymes are actually expressed. Some species of Entamoeba are also in possession of multiple "virulence genes", but for some species they apparently remain un-expressed, and most Entamoeba species are still considered harmless.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

To Treat or Not To Treat... But How?

In the "To Treat or Not To Treat" series (please look up previous post here), we have come to the "...But How?" episode.

Blastocystis may be susceptible to a number of drugs - in vitro. In vitro is not the opposite of in vivo. In vitro just  means that the test has been done on an organism that has been isolated from its usual habitat and tested e.g. in a flask, test tube, etc. In the lab, strains can be challenged and manipulated in multiple ways, but there is no guarantee that the outcome of an in vitro susceptibility test is reproducible in vivo, i.e. when the organism is challenged in its natural habitat and under "natural" conditions. Hence, if you test Blastocystis against metronidazole or any other compound (such as iodine) in vitro, and you observe an effect, you cannot rely on being able to reproduce the effect in vivo. This is due to a variety of reasons including pharmaco-kinetics and pharmaco-dynamics, including the ability of the drug to reach the parasite in its ecological niche, impact of the drug on other micro-organisms, drug interactions, strain-dependent differences in susceptibility (including inherent or acquired resistance), etc.

We recently described a case in which a woman with irritable bowel syndrome (according to the Rome III criteria) had both Blastocystis subtype 9 (ST9) and Dientamoeba fragilis. In order to try and eradicate the parasites and to see whether any eradication would impact on her clinical situation, she received multiple courses of antibiotic treatment:

1. Metronidazole (750 mg x 3/d for 10 days)
2. Tetracycline (500 mg x 4/d for 10 days)
3. Trimethoprim + Sulfamethoxazole (TMP 800 mg + SXT 160 mg x 2/d for 7 days)
4. Mebendazole + Metronidazole (100 mg x 2 separated by 2 weeks; subsequently metronidazole as in 1.)
5. Paromomycin + Metronidazole (PM 500 mg + MZ 170 mg x 3/d for 10 days)

Mebendazole was given to the entire household due to suspicion of pinworm infection running in the family that could be a potential reservoir of D. fragilis (re-)infection.

No clinical alleviation was seen throughout this period.

PCR-based detection of Blastocystis and D. fragilis was used to evaluate  faecal samples 5-10 days post-treatment: Microbiological effect was seen only on D. fragilis which was cleared only after treatment with PM + MZ (5).

So, Blastocystis "survived" this series of antimicrobial treatment. In Denmark, no further relevant treatment options are available for general use (actually, even the use of Humatin (PM) needs a special license).

None of the patient's family members or pets were found to be colonised by the same strain, probably indicating that there was no "local" reservoir for ST9, and that the repeated finding of ST9 was not due to re-infection.

It may be so that Blastocystis requires a certain intestinal bacterial flora to establish. However, we expect that substantial perturbations in the intestinal flora must have taken place during the patient's various treatments, and therefore Blastocystis must be able to quickly overcome and adapt to such perturbations. It may add to the conundrum that in this case the woman harboured ST9, which is only very rarely seen in humans, and we might therefore deduce that its presence would be more volatile. No animal/environmental reservoir has yet been identified for ST9.

There is no doubt that microbiomic profiling of the intestinal flora would be of great benefit in a case like this. If data could be achieved on the impact of these drugs on the relative bacterial structure and function by metagenomic approaches, then this would allow us to explore the changes in the general flora that Blastocystis is capable of withstanding. Certainly, none of these drugs had a measurable in-vivo protistocidal effect on Blastocystis when administered as shown.

I re-emphasise that it is far from certain that Blastocystis is capable of inducing disease, directly or indirectly, and hence, we do not know if, and in which situations, we should aim at eradicating it. Suffice it to say, that in our hands and with the compounds that are available for general use in Denmark, it is apparently extremely challenging to eradicate Blastocystis, if at all possible.

Microbe Resilience (Source)

Further reading:

Coyle CM, Varughese J, Weiss LM, & Tanowitz HB (2012). Blastocystis: to treat or not to treat... Clinical infectious diseases : an official publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, 54 (1), 105-10 PMID: 22075794

Engsbro AL, & Stensvold CR (2012). Blastocystis: To Treat Or Not To Treat...But How? Clinical infectious diseases : an official publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America PMID: 22893582

Stensvold CR, Smith HV, Nagel R, Olsen KE, & Traub RJ (2010). Eradication of Blastocystis carriage with antimicrobials: reality or delusion? Journal of clinical gastroenterology, 44 (2), 85-90 PMID: 19834337