Occurrence of Human Intestinal Spirochetosis in Comparison With Infections by Other Enteropathogenic Agents in an Area of the Northern Italy

Diagn Microbiol Infect Dis. 2007 Oct;59(2):157-63. doi: 10.1016/j.diagmicrobio.2007.05.002. Epub 2007 Jul 26.


The aim of this study was to investigate the occurrence of human intestinal spirochetosis (IS) by a 16S rRNA restriction fragment length polymorphism polymerase chain reaction (RFLP-PCR) in a selected group (234) of patients with gastrointestinal complaints and/or potential risk factors for IS in comparison with the occurrence of infections by other enteropathogenic agents. By using 16S rRNA RFLP-PCR, 16 patients (6.8%) with IS were found (11 infected by Brachyspira aalborgi, 3 by Brachyspira pilosicoli, and 2 by both species); moreover, 10 patients with gastroenteric viruses (4.2%), 13 with enteropathogenic bacteria other than intestinal spirochetes (5.5%), and 24 with intestinal parasites (10.2%) were found. This study provides an enhancement of the knowledge about the distribution of IS, suggesting that it may be more frequent than suspected and that clinicians should consider IS when patients present with long-standing diarrhea. Moreover, 16S rRNA RFLP-PCR might be a powerful tool not only for diagnostic purpose but also to investigate the occurrence of IS just on fecal samples, not requiring invasive diagnostic techniques.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brachyspira / classification
  • Brachyspira / genetics
  • Brachyspira / isolation & purification*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • DNA, Bacterial / analysis
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Feces / virology
  • Female
  • Genes, rRNA
  • Gram-Negative Bacterial Infections / epidemiology*
  • Gram-Negative Bacterial Infections / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Intestinal Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Intestinal Diseases* / microbiology
  • Intestinal Diseases* / virology
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymorphism, Restriction Fragment Length
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S