Clinical and diagnostic management of toxoplasmosis in the immunocompromised patient

Parassitologia. 2008 Jun;50(1-2):45-50.


With the advent of the highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), the natural course of HIV infection has markedly changed and opportunistic infections including toxoplasmosis have declined and modified in presentation, outcome and incidence. However, TE is a major cause of morbidity and mortality especially in resource-poor settings but also a common neurological complication in some countries despite the availability of HAART and effective prophylaxis. In most cases toxoplasmosis occurs in brain and toxoplasmic encephalitis (TE) is the most common presentation of toxoplasmosis in immunocompromised patients with or without AIDS. The need of a definitive diagnosis is substantial because other brain diseases could share similar findings. Rapid and specific diagnosis is thus crucial as early treatment may improve the clinical outcome. Classical serological diagnosis is often inconclusive as immunodeficient individuals fail to produce significant titres of specific antibodies. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) has a high diagnostic value in the acute disease, but like many 'in-house' PCR assays, suffers from lack of standardization and variable performance according to the laboratory. Molecular diagnosis of toxoplasmosis can be improved by performing real-time PCR protocols. This article summarises the clinical manifestations, diagnostic procedures and management strategies for this condition.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections / diagnosis
  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections / drug therapy
  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections / epidemiology
  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections / immunology
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Protozoan / blood
  • Antibodies, Protozoan / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Antiprotozoal Agents / therapeutic use
  • DNA, Protozoan / blood
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Immunocompromised Host*
  • Incidence
  • Oligoclonal Bands / analysis
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Toxoplasma / genetics
  • Toxoplasma / immunology
  • Toxoplasmosis / diagnosis*
  • Toxoplasmosis / drug therapy
  • Toxoplasmosis / epidemiology
  • Toxoplasmosis, Cerebral / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Toxoplasmosis, Cerebral / diagnosis
  • Toxoplasmosis, Cerebral / drug therapy
  • Toxoplasmosis, Cerebral / epidemiology
  • Toxoplasmosis, Cerebral / immunology


  • Antibodies, Protozoan
  • Antiprotozoal Agents
  • DNA, Protozoan
  • Oligoclonal Bands