[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Inapparent infections of Trypanosoma cruzi were detected in symptomless seropositive people living in close proximity, and under the same conditions of risk, to patients with acute Chagas disease. Similar infections were also detected in sera samples of people from 25 villages of western Venezuela where Chagas disease is endemic. Seropositivity in all the 1,251 studied samples was established by use of 3 serological methods (direct agglutination test, indirect immunofluorescence antibody test, and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay). Each seropositive sample was tested for detection of anti-T. cruzi-specific immunoglobulin (Ig) M and IgG levels and specific T. cruzi infection by molecular methodology (polymerase chain reaction assay). The combined analysis of the serologic (IgM and IgG levels), molecular (specific T. cruzi DNA), and statistical findings demonstrated the existence of a different stage of T. cruzi infection in asymptomatic patients, which is suggested to be recognized as inapparent infection. Its definition, significance, and comparison with typical Chagas disease phases are presented, and its potential epidemiological importance is discussed.
The American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene 10/2001; 65(3):227-32. · 2.53 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The persistence of Trypanosoma cruzi tissue forms was detected in the myocardium of seropositive individuals clinically diagnosed as chronic chagasic patients following endomyocardial biopsies (EMBs) processed by immunohistochemical (peroxidase-anti-peroxidase [PAP] staining) and molecular (polymerase chain reaction [PCR]) techniques. An indirect immunofluorescent technique revealed antigenic deposits in the cardiac tissue in 24 (88.9%) of 27 patients. Persistent T. cruzi amastigotes were detected by PAP staining in the myocardium of 22 (84.6%) of 26 patients. This finding was confirmed with a PCR assay specific for T. cruzi in 21 (91.3%) of 23 biopsy specimens from the same patients. Statistical analysis revealed substantial agreement between PCR and PAP techniques (k = 0.68) and the PCR and any serologic test (k = 0.77). The histopathologic study of EMB specimens from these patients revealed necrosis, inflammatory infiltrates, and fibrosis, and made it possible to detect heart abnormalities not detected by electrocardiogram and/or cineventriculogram. These indications of myocarditis were supported by the detection of T. cruzi amastigotes by the PAP technique or its genome by PCR. They suggest that although the number of parasites is low in patients with chronic Chagas' disease, their potential for heart damage may be comparable with those present during the acute phase. The urgent necessity for testing new drugs with long-term effects on T. cruzi is discussed in the context of the present results.
The American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene 06/1999; 60(5):726-32. · 2.53 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A clinical, parasitologic, and serologic study carried out between 1988 and 1996 on 59 acute-phase patients in areas of western Venezuela where Chagas' disease is endemic showed 19 symptomatic patterns or groups of symptoms appearing in combination with different frequencies. The symptomatic pattern with the highest frequency was that showing simultaneously fever, myalgia, headache, and Romaña's sign, which was detected in 20% of the acute-phase patients. Asymptomatic individuals and patients with fever as the only sign of the disease made up 15% and 11.9% of the total acute cases, respectively. Statistical correlation analysis revealed that xenodiagnosis and hemoculture were the most reliable and concordant of the five parasitologic methods used; these two methods also showed the highest proportions in detecting any clinical symptomatic pattern in acute-phase patients. A similar high reliability and concordance was obtained with a direct agglutination test, an indirect immunofluorescent antibody test, and an ELISA as serologic tests, which also showed a higher proportion of positive detection of clinical patterns than parasitologic methods (P < 0.001). It is recommended that individuals coming from endemic areas showing mild and/or severe clinical manifestations should be suspected of being in contact or having been in contact with Trypanosoma cruzi, be referred for parasitologic and serologic evaluations to confirm the presumptive clinical diagnosis of acute Chagas' disease, and start specific treatment. The epidemiologic implications of the present findings are discussed and the use of similar methodology to evaluate other areas where Chagas' disease is endemic is suggested.
The American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene 02/1999; 60(2):215-22. · 2.53 Impact Factor