Clinical syndromes associated with microsporidiosis

Adv Parasitol. 1998:40:321-49. doi: 10.1016/s0065-308x(08)60126-8.


Microsporidia are ubiquitous in nature. Several clinical syndromes have been associated with microsporidiosis, especially in HIV-infected individuals, and include enteropathy, keratoconjunctivitis, sinusitis, tracheobronchitis, encephalitis, interstitial nephritis, hepatitis, cholecystitis, osteomyelitis, and myositis. Diarrhea and malabsorption are the most common clinical problems. Enterocytozoon bieneusi is the most common microsporidial cause of intestinal disease. A second species, Encephalitozoon intestinalis (originally named Septata intestinalis) is associated with disseminated as well as intestinal disease. Microsporidiosis has been seen worldwide, and is recognized as a frequent enteric infection in patients with AIDS. The pathogenesis of intestinal disease is related to excess death of enterocytes as a result of cellular infection. Clinically, microsporidiosis most often presents with diarrhea and weight loss as a result of small intestinal injury and malabsorption. However, microsporidia have been detected in virtually all organs, and may provoke symptoms related to their specific localization. The diagnosis of microsporidiosis is made histologically, either from tissue biopsies or secretions. While transmission electron microscopy was required for diagnosis in the past, special stains and light microscopy, as well as immunohistochemical and molecular techniques are capable of providing a firm diagnosis. Therapeutic options are limited. Enc. intestinalis responds well to albendazole, while no antiparasitic therapy has documented efficacy in Ent. bieneusi infections.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections* / diagnosis
  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections* / epidemiology
  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections* / therapy
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Protozoan
  • Antigens, Protozoan
  • Antiprotozoal Agents
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Diseases, Parasitic* / diagnosis
  • Intestinal Diseases, Parasitic* / epidemiology
  • Intestinal Diseases, Parasitic* / therapy
  • Microsporida* / immunology
  • Microsporida* / isolation & purification
  • Microsporida* / pathogenicity
  • Microsporidiosis* / diagnosis
  • Microsporidiosis* / epidemiology
  • Microsporidiosis* / physiopathology
  • Microsporidiosis* / therapy


  • Antibodies, Protozoan
  • Antigens, Protozoan
  • Antiprotozoal Agents