Microsporidiosis: current status

Curr Opin Infect Dis. 2006 Oct;19(5):485-92. doi: 10.1097/01.qco.0000244055.46382.23.


Purpose of review: Microsporidiosis is an emerging and opportunistic infection associated with a wide range of clinical syndromes in humans. This review highlights the research on microsporidiosis in humans during the previous 2 years.

Recent findings: The reduced and compact microsporidian genome has generated much interest for better understanding the evolution of these parasites, and comparative molecular phylogenetic studies continue to support a relationship between the microsporidia and fungi. Through increased awareness and improved diagnostics, microsporidiosis has been identified in a broader range of human populations that, in addition to persons with HIV infection, includes travelers, children, organ transplant recipients, and the elderly.

Summary: Effective commercial therapies for Enterocytozoon bieneusi, the most common microsporidian species identified in humans, are still lacking, making the need to develop tissue culture and small animal models increasingly urgent. Environmental transport modeling and disinfection strategies are being addressed for improving water safety. Questions still exist about whether microsporidia infections remain persistent in asymptomatic immune-competent individuals, reactivate during conditions of immune compromise, or may be transmitted to others at risk, such as during pregnancy or through organ donation. Reliable serological diagnostic methods are needed to supplement polymerase chain reaction or histochemistry when spore shedding may be sporadic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Microsporidia* / classification
  • Microsporidia* / genetics
  • Microsporidia* / physiology
  • Microsporidiosis / diagnosis*
  • Microsporidiosis / epidemiology
  • Microsporidiosis / therapy*