Prevalence and clinical relevance of Blastocystis hominis in diverse patient cohorts

Eur J Epidemiol. 1999 Apr;15(4):389-93. doi: 10.1023/a:1007551218671.


The pathogenicity of Blastocystis hominis is extensively debated in the medical literature. Therefore, we did a prevalence study to investigate the association between the presence of several intestinal parasites and gastrointestinal symptoms in diverse patient cohorts. The study population consisted of 1216 adults, including immunocompromised patients, institutionalized psychiatric or elder subjects, immigrants from developing countries, travellers to developing tropical countries and controls. Several variables for each risk group were considered. Stools specimens, collected in triplicate, were processed by the same technicians. Clinical data about each subject were provided by standardized questionnaires. The presence of gastrointestinal symptoms were related to the presence of any parasite. In addition, on the basis of microbiological results, five subgroups of subjects were evaluated. The results showed a high prevalence of parasites in all the risk groups. Immunocompromised status, recent arrival from developing countries and the presence of behavioural aberrations were significantly related to presence of parasites. B. hominis was the parasite most frequently detected in each studied group. B. hominis showed a significant correlation with gastrointestinal symptoms only when detected in the group including subjects with a severe immunodepression. Immunodepression seems to be a factor of primary importance of the pathogenic role of B. hominis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Blastocystis Infections / epidemiology*
  • Blastocystis hominis*
  • Developing Countries
  • Emigration and Immigration
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunocompromised Host
  • Institutionalization
  • Intestinal Diseases, Parasitic / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Surveys and Questionnaires