Pathologic features and immunofluorescent antibody demonstration of ocular microsporidiosis (Encephalitozoon hellem) in seven patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome

Am J Ophthalmol. 1993 Mar 15;115(3):285-92. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9394(14)73577-9.


We studied the clinicopathologic features of seven patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and ocular microsporidiosis. All patients had decreased levels of CD4-positive cells (mean, 26/ml3) and ocular symptoms; five had bilateral punctate epithelial keratopathy, one had intermittent red eyes with conjunctivitis, and one had red eyes only. Light and electron microscopy of corneal and conjunctival biopsy and cytologic specimens and intact globes disclosed microsporidia belonging to the genus Encephalitozoon. Because E. cuniculi and E. hellem, the two species of the Encephalitozoon genus, are morphologically identical, an immunofluorescent antibody technique was used for species identification. In all seven patients, the agent was identified as E. hellem. Pathologic examination of globes obtained after autopsy disclosed E. hellem infection to be restricted to the corneal and conjunctival epithelium. We studied methods for the routine diagnosis of ocular microsporidiosis in patients with AIDS, including the role of immunofluorescent antibody staining.

MeSH terms

  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections*
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Protozoan / analysis*
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes
  • Conjunctival Diseases / immunology
  • Conjunctival Diseases / parasitology
  • Conjunctival Diseases / pathology
  • Corneal Diseases / immunology
  • Corneal Diseases / parasitology
  • Corneal Diseases / pathology
  • Encephalitozoon / immunology
  • Encephalitozoon / ultrastructure
  • Encephalitozoonosis / immunology
  • Encephalitozoonosis / pathology*
  • Eye Infections, Parasitic / immunology
  • Eye Infections, Parasitic / pathology*
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged


  • Antibodies, Protozoan