Echinococcosis is a neglected zoonotic disease and a worldwide public health problem caused by infection with the larval stages of taeniid cestodes of the genus Echinococcus. In vitro studies have demonstrated a protoscolecidal effect of eosinophilic cationic protein (ECP), a granule protein of eosinophilic granulocytes, against E. granulosus. Therefore, the main objective of this study was to evaluate ECP as a biomarker in the treatment of alveolar echinococcosis (AE) and cystic echinococcosis (CE). Data were collected retrospectively from the Vienna Echinococcosis Cohort over 7 years until December 2020. Altogether, 32 patients (16 AE and 16 CE) were included. In the selected patients, serum ECP values were compared before and after the beginning of an operative and/or benzimidazole (BMZ) therapy. Mean ECP serum levels before intervention were significantly (p < 0.05) elevated at 34.0 ± 22.9 μg/L in AE patients and at 38.6 ± 19.9 μg/L in CE patients compared to the control group. After the intervention, mean ECP levels decreased significantly (p < 0.05) to 20.4 ± 14.6 μg/L in AE patients and to 22.4 ± 8.3 μg/L in CE patients. Furthermore, ECP showed a significant (p < 0.05) correlation of k = 0.56 with PET-CTI. Based on the significant decrease after operative and/or BMZ treatment and the correlation with clinical markers such as PET-CTI, it is recommended to investigate ECP more intensively as a marker of AE and CE in prospective studies with larger cohorts.
Keywords: echinococcosis; eosinophilic cationic protein; routine marker.