BackgroundA century after its discovery, Chagas disease still represents a major neglected tropical threat. Accurate diagnostics tools as well as surrogate markers of parasitological response to treatment are research priorities in the field. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the performance of PCR methods in detection of Trypanosoma cruzi DNA by an external quality evaluation.Methodology/FindingsAn international collaborative study was launched by expert PCR laboratories from 16 countries. Currently used strategies were challenged against serial dilutions of purified DNA from stocks representing T. cruzi discrete typing units (DTU) I, IV and VI (set A), human blood spiked with parasite cells (set B) and Guanidine Hidrochloride-EDTA blood samples from 32 seropositive and 10 seronegative patients from Southern Cone countries (set C). Forty eight PCR tests were reported for set A and 44 for sets B and C; 28 targeted minicircle DNA (kDNA), 13 satellite DNA (Sat-DNA) and the remainder low copy number sequences. In set A, commercial master mixes and Sat-DNA Real Time PCR showed better specificity, but kDNA-PCR was more sensitive to detect DTU I DNA. In set B, commercial DNA extraction kits presented better specificity than solvent extraction protocols. Sat-DNA PCR tests had higher specificity, with sensitivities of 0.05–0.5 parasites/mL whereas specific kDNA tests detected 5.10−3 par/mL. Sixteen specific and coherent methods had a Good Performance in both sets A and B (10 fg/µl of DNA from all stocks, 5 par/mL spiked blood). The median values of sensitivities, specificities and accuracies obtained in testing the Set C samples with the 16 tests determined to be good performing by analyzing Sets A and B samples varied considerably. Out of them, four methods depicted the best performing parameters in all three sets of samples, detecting at least 10 fg/µl for each DNA stock, 0.5 par/mL and a sensitivity between 83.3–94.4%, specificity of 85–95%, accuracy of 86.8–89.5% and kappa index of 0.7–0.8 compared to consensus PCR reports of the 16 good performing tests and 63–69%, 100%, 71.4–76.2% and 0.4–0.5, respectively compared to serodiagnosis. Method LbD2 used solvent extraction followed by Sybr-Green based Real time PCR targeted to Sat-DNA; method LbD3 used solvent DNA extraction followed by conventional PCR targeted to Sat-DNA. The third method (LbF1) used glass fiber column based DNA extraction followed by TaqMan Real Time PCR targeted to Sat-DNA (cruzi 1/cruzi 2 and cruzi 3 TaqMan probe) and the fourth method (LbQ) used solvent DNA extraction followed by conventional hot-start PCR targeted to kDNA (primer pairs 121/122). These four methods were further evaluated at the coordinating laboratory in a subset of human blood samples, confirming the performance obtained by the participating laboratories.Conclusion/SignificanceThis study represents a first crucial step towards international validation of PCR procedures for detection of T. cruzi in human blood samples.
Trypanosoma cruzi is the most important parasitic infection in Latin America and is also genetically highly diverse, with at least six discrete typing units (DTUs) reported: Tc I, IIa, IIb, IIc, IId, and IIe. However, the current six-genotype classification is likely to be a poor reflection of the total genetic diversity present in this undeniably ancient parasite. To determine whether epidemiologically important information is “hidden” at the sub-DTU level, we developed a 48-marker panel of polymorphic microsatellite loci to investigate population structure among 135 samples from across the geographic distribution of TcI. This DTU is the major cause of resurgent human disease in northern South America but also occurs in silvatic triatomine vectors and mammalian reservoir hosts throughout the continent. Based on a total dataset of 12,329 alleles, we demonstrate that silvatic TcI populations are extraordinarily genetically diverse, show spatial structuring on a continental scale, and have undergone recent biogeographic expansion into the southern United States of America. Conversely, the majority of human strains sampled are restricted to two distinct groups characterised by a considerable reduction in genetic diversity with respect to isolates from silvatic sources. In Venezuela, most human isolates showed little identity with known local silvatic strains, despite frequent invasion of the domestic setting by infected adult vectors. Multilocus linkage indices indicate predominantly clonal parasite propagation among all populations. However, excess homozygosity among silvatic strains and raised heterozygosity among domestic populations suggest that some level of genetic recombination cannot be ruled out. The epidemiological significance of these findings is discussed.
American trypanosomiasis is a parasitic zoonosis that occurs throughout Latin America. The etiological agent, Trypanosoma cruzi, is able to infect almost all tissues of its mammalian hosts and spreads in the environment in multifarious transmission cycles that may or not be connected. This biological plasticity, which is probably the result of the considerable heterogeneity of the taxon, exemplifies a successful adaptation of a parasite resulting in distinct outcomes of infection and a complex epidemiological pattern. In the 1990s, most endemic countries strengthened national control programs to interrupt the transmission of this parasite to humans. However, many obstacles remain to the effective control of the disease. Current knowledge of the different components involved in elaborate system that is American trypanosomiasis (the protozoan parasite T. cruzi, vectors Triatominae and the many reservoirs of infection), as well as the interactions existing within the system, is still incomplete. The Triatominae probably evolve from predatory reduvids in response to the availability of vertebrate food source. However, the basic mechanisms of adaptation of some of them to artificial ecotopes remain poorly understood. Nevertheless, these adaptations seem to be associated with a behavioral plasticity, a reduction in the genetic repertoire and increasing developmental instability.
An international study was performed by 26 experienced PCR laboratories from 14 countries to assess the performance of duplex quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) strategies on the basis of TaqMan probes for detection and quantification of parasitic loads in peripheral blood samples from Chagas disease patients. Two methods were studied: Satellite DNA (SatDNA) qPCR and kinetoplastid DNA (kDNA) qPCR. Both methods included an internal amplification control. Reportable range, analytical sensitivity, limits of detection and quantification, and precision were estimated according to international guidelines. In addition, inclusivity and exclusivity were estimated with DNA from stocks representing the different Trypanosoma cruzi discrete typing units and Trypanosoma rangeli and Leishmania spp. Both methods were challenged against 156 blood samples provided by the participant laboratories, including samples from acute and chronic patients with varied clinical findings, infected by oral route or vectorial transmission. kDNA qPCR showed better analytical sensitivity than SatDNA qPCR with limits of detection of 0.23 and 0.70 parasite equivalents/mL, respectively. Analyses of clinical samples revealed a high concordance in terms of sensitivity and parasitic loads determined by both SatDNA and kDNA qPCRs. This effort is a major step toward international validation of qPCR methods for the quantification of T. cruzi DNA in human blood samples, aiming to provide an accurate surrogate biomarker for diagnosis and treatment monitoring for patients with Chagas disease.
BackgroundMultilocus sequence typing (MLST) is a powerful and highly discriminatory method for analysing pathogen population structure and epidemiology. Trypanosoma cruzi, the protozoan agent of American trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease), has remarkable genetic and ecological diversity. A standardised MLST protocol that is suitable for assignment of T. cruzi isolates to genetic lineage and for higher resolution diversity studies has not been developed.Methodology/Principal FindingsWe have sequenced and diplotyped nine single copy housekeeping genes and assessed their value as part of a systematic MLST scheme for T. cruzi. A minimum panel of four MLST targets (Met-III, RB19, TcGPXII, and DHFR-TS) was shown to provide unambiguous assignment of isolates to the six known T. cruzi lineages (Discrete Typing Units, DTUs TcI-TcVI). In addition, we recommend six MLST targets (Met-II, Met-III, RB19, TcMPX, DHFR-TS, and TR) for more in depth diversity studies on the basis that diploid sequence typing (DST) with this expanded panel distinguished 38 out of 39 reference isolates. Phylogenetic analysis implies a subdivision between North and South American TcIV isolates. Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) data revealed high levels of heterozygosity among DTUs TcI, TcIII, TcIV and, for three targets, putative corresponding homozygous and heterozygous loci within DTUs TcI and TcIII. Furthermore, individual gene trees gave incongruent topologies at inter- and intra-DTU levels, inconsistent with a model of strict clonality.Conclusions/SignificanceWe demonstrate the value of systematic MLST diplotyping for describing inter-DTU relationships and for higher resolution diversity studies of T. cruzi, including presence of recombination events. The high levels of heterozygosity will facilitate future population genetics analysis based on MLST haplotypes.
The intergenic region of spliced-leader (SL-IR) genes from 105 Trypanosoma cruzi I (Tc I) infected biological samples, culture isolates and stocks from 11 endemic countries, from Argentina to the USA were characterised, allowing identification of 76 genotypes with 54 polymorphic sites from 123 aligned sequences. On the basis of the microsatellite motif proposed by Herrera et al. (2007) to define four haplotypes in Colombia, we could classify these genotypes into four distinct Tc I SL-IR groups, three corresponding to the former haplotypes Ia (11 genotypes), Ib (11 genotypes) and Id (35 genotypes); and one novel group, Ie (19 genotypes). Genotypes harboring the Tc Ic motif were not detected in our study. Tc Ia was associated with domestic cycles in southern and northern South America and sylvatic cycles in Central and North America. Tc Ib was found in all transmission cycles from Colombia. Tc Id was identified in all transmission cycles from Argentina and Colombia, including Chagas cardiomyopathy patients, sylvatic Brazilian samples and human cases from French Guiana, Panama and Venezuela. Tc Ie gathered five samples from domestic Triatoma infestans from northern Argentina, nine samples from wild Mepraia spinolai and Mepraia gajardoi and two chagasic patients from Chile and one from a Bolivian patient with chagasic reactivation. Mixed infections by Tc Ia + Tc Id, Tc Ia + Tc Ie and Tc Id + Tc Ie were detected in vector faeces and isolates from human and vector samples. In addition, Tc Ia and Tc Id were identified in different tissues from a heart transplanted Chagas cardiomyopathy patient with reactivation, denoting histotropism. Trypanosoma cruzi I SL-IR genotypes from parasites infecting Triatoma gerstaeckeri and Didelphis virginiana from USA, T. infestans from Paraguay, Rhodnius nasutus and Rhodnius neglectus from Brazil and M. spinolai and M. gajardoi from Chile are to our knowledge described for the first time.
BackgroundChagas disease, caused by infection with the protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi, remains a serious public health issue in Latin America. Genetically diverse, the species is sub-divided into six lineages, known as TcI–TcVI, which have disparate geographical and ecological distributions. TcII, TcV, and TcVI are associated with severe human disease in the Southern Cone countries, whereas TcI is associated with cardiomyopathy north of the Amazon. T. cruzi persists as a chronic infection, with cardiac and/or gastrointestinal symptoms developing years or decades after initial infection. Identifying an individual's history of T. cruzi lineage infection directly by genotyping of the parasite is complicated by the low parasitaemia and sequestration in the host tissues.Methodology/Principal FindingsWe have applied here serology against lineage-specific epitopes of the T. cruzi surface antigen TSSA, as an indirect approach to allow identification of infecting lineage. Chagasic sera from chronic patients from a range of endemic countries were tested by ELISA against synthetic peptides representing lineage-specific TSSA epitopes bound to avidin-coated ELISA plates via a biotin labelled polyethylene glycol-glycine spacer to increase rotation and ensure each amino acid side chain could freely interact with their antibodies. 79/113 (70%) of samples from Brazil, Bolivia, and Argentina recognised the TSSA epitope common to lineages TcII/TcV/TcVI. Comparison with clinical information showed that a higher proportion of Brazilian TSSApep-II/V/VI responders had ECG abnormalities than non-responders (38% vs 17%; p<0.0001). Among northern chagasic sera 4/20 (20%) from Ecuador reacted with this peptide; 1/12 Venezuelan and 1/34 Colombian samples reacted with TSSApep-IV. In addition, a proposed TcI-specific epitope, described elsewhere, was demonstrated here to be highly conserved across lineages and therefore not applicable to lineage-specific serology.Conclusions/SignificanceThese results demonstrate the considerable potential for synthetic peptide serology to investigate the infection history of individuals, geographical and clinical associations of T. cruzi lineages.
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