Characterization and pathogenic potential of a soil isolate and an ocular isolate of Acanthamoeba castellanii in relation to Acanthamoeba keratitis

Curr Eye Res. 1992 Dec;11(12):1207-20. doi: 10.3109/02713689208999546.


Acanthamoeba castellanii, one isolate from the eye and one from the soil, were compared on the basis of: (a) pathogenic potential; (b) plasminogen activator activity; (c) chemotactic activity; (d) cytopathic effects; (e) collagenolytic activity; (f) binding ability to contact lenses; and (g) and binding ability to corneal buttons. The ocular isolate of A. castellanii was found to be pathogenic based on its ability to produce corneal infections in Chinese hamsters. By contrast, the soil isolate produced only mild lesions in a single Chinese hamster. Amoebae from the ocular isolate bound to corneal epithelium in greater numbers than the soil isolate counterparts. Moreover, ocular isolate organisms displayed plasminogen activator activity that was not detected in cultures from soil isolates of A. castellanii. Although neither the soil isolate nor the ocular isolate amoebae responded chemotactically to epithelial or stromal components, the ocular isolate displayed a curious and reproducible positive chemotactic response to endothelial extracts. Both A. castellanii isolates produced cytopathic effects on pig corneal epithelium, however the cytotoxicity from the ocular isolate was significantly greater than that of the soil isolate. The results indicate that the pathogenic potential of A. castellanii is correlated with the parasite's capacity to bind to corneal epithelium, respond chemotactically to corneal endothelial extracts, elaborate plasminogen activators, and produce cytopathic effects on corneal epithelium.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acanthamoeba / isolation & purification*
  • Acanthamoeba / pathogenicity
  • Acanthamoeba Keratitis / parasitology*
  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chemotaxis / physiology
  • Collagen / metabolism
  • Contact Lenses
  • Cornea / parasitology*
  • Cricetinae
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Epithelium / parasitology
  • Fibrinolysis / physiology
  • Humans
  • Plasminogen Activators / physiology
  • Soil Microbiology*
  • Swine
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Collagen
  • Plasminogen Activators