Prevalence of microsporidiosis due to Enterocytozoon bieneusi and Encephalitozoon (Septata) intestinalis among patients with AIDS-related diarrhea: determination by polymerase chain reaction to the microsporidian small-subunit rRNA gene

Clin Infect Dis. 1996 Nov;23(5):1002-6. doi: 10.1093/clinids/23.5.1002.


Microsporidia are emerging as opportunistic pathogens in patients with AIDS. Enterocytozoon bieneusi and Encephalitozoon (Septata) intestinalis have been implicated in enteric infections in AIDS patients with chronic diarrhea, a wasting syndrome, and malabsorption. We used the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and primers that amplify the conserved regions of the small-subunit rRNA (SSU-rRNA) gene of E. bieneusi and E. intestinalis in tissue specimens from HIV-infected patients with and without diarrhea to examine the association between microsporidia and diarrhea in patients with AIDS. Tissue specimens were obtained from 68 patients with AIDS and diarrhea (mean CD4 lymphocyte count, 21/mm3) and 43 AIDS patients without diarrhea (mean CD4 lymphocyte count, 60/mm3). By means of PCR with use of the SSU-rRNA primers specific for E. bieneusi and E. intestinalis, we found that 44% of patients with diarrhea were infected with microsporidia, whereas only 2.3% of the patients without diarrhea were infected with microsporidia (P < .001). There was a clear association between the presence of microsporidia and diarrhea. In addition, the SSU-rRNA primers proved to be sensitive and specific when used in this clinical setting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections / epidemiology
  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections / parasitology*
  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections / pathology
  • Animals
  • Diarrhea / complications
  • Diarrhea / epidemiology
  • Diarrhea / parasitology*
  • Diarrhea / pathology
  • Encephalitozoon / genetics
  • Encephalitozoon / isolation & purification*
  • Encephalitozoonosis / epidemiology
  • Encephalitozoonosis / parasitology*
  • Encephalitozoonosis / pathology
  • Humans
  • Microsporida / genetics
  • Microsporida / isolation & purification*
  • Microsporidiosis / epidemiology
  • Microsporidiosis / parasitology*
  • Microsporidiosis / pathology
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Prevalence
  • RNA, Protozoan / analysis*
  • RNA, Ribosomal / analysis*


  • RNA, Protozoan
  • RNA, Ribosomal