Pathogenicity, morphology, and differentiation of Acanthamoeba

Curr Microbiol. 2001 Dec;43(6):391-5. doi: 10.1007/s002840010325.


Acanthamoeba keratitis is sight threatening corneal infection caused by pathogenic Acanthamoeba. Previous studies have shown the genotypic differences between pathogenic and non-pathogenic species/strains of Acanthamoeba. In this study, we examined the morphological differences between pathogenic and non-pathogenic species/strains using scanning electron microscopy. Pathogenic Acanthamoeba exhibited higher number of acanthopodia (structures associated with the binding of amoeba to the target cells) as compared to non-pathogens. In addition, interactions of amoeba with the corneal epithelial cells were studied. Only pathogenic amoeba exhibited adhesion to epithelial cells. Further results indicated that phagocytosis occurs in the pathogenic amoeba by the formation of amoebastome (characteristic of amoeba phagocyte). This study showed that Acanthamoeba phagocytosis may be both an efficient means of obtaining nutrients for the amoeba and a significant factor in the pathogenesis of Acanthamoeba infections.

MeSH terms

  • Acanthamoeba / classification*
  • Acanthamoeba / pathogenicity*
  • Acanthamoeba / ultrastructure
  • Acanthamoeba Keratitis / parasitology
  • Animals
  • Epithelium, Corneal / parasitology
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Phagocytosis
  • Rabbits
  • Virulence