Screening for Schistosoma spp. and Leishmania spp. DNA in Serum of Ghanaian Patients with Acquired Immunodeficiency

Pathogens. 2022 Jul 2;11(7):760. doi: 10.3390/pathogens11070760.


Both Schistosoma spp. (species) and Leishmania spp. are prevalent in Ghana in West Africa. However, little is known about their local occurrence in immunocompromised individuals. In the study presented here, the real-time PCR-(polymerase chain reaction-)based screening for repetitive DNA (deoxyribonucleotide acid) sequences from the genomes of Leishmania (L.) spp. and Schistosoma (S.) spp. was performed in the serum of HIV-(human immunodeficiency virus-)infected Ghanaian patients. In 1083 assessed serum samples from HIV-positive and HIV-negative Ghanian patients, Leishmania spp.-specific DNA was not detected, while the diagnostic accuracy-adjusted prevalence estimation suggested a 3.6% prevalence of the S. mansoni complex and a 0.5% prevalence of the S. haematobium complex. Associations of schistosomiasis with younger age, as well as with the male sex, could be shown but not with an HIV status. Weakly significant signals for the associations of schistosomiasis with an increased viral load, reduced CD4+ (CD = cluster of differentiation) T cell count, and a reduced CD4+/CD8+ ratio could be observed but was inconsistently lost in the case of the stratification on the species complex level. So, it is concluded that factors other than HIV status are more likely to have influenced the occurrence of Schistosoma spp. infections in the assessed Ghanaian patients. Potential associations between HIV infection-associated factors, such as the viral load and the immune status of the patients, for which weak signals were observed in this hypothesis-forming retrospective assessment, should be confirmed by prospective, sufficiently powered investigations.

Keywords: Ghana; HIV; epidemiology; leishmaniasis; molecular diagnosis; schistosomiasis.