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Journal: The Korean journal of parasitology


The 5th outbreak of trichinosis occurred in a mountainous area of North Vietnam in 2012, involving 24 patients among 27 people who consumed raw pork together. Six of these patients visited several hospitals in Hanoi for treatment. Similar clinical symptoms appeared in these patients within 5-8 days after eating infected raw pork, which consisted of fever, muscle pain, difficult moving, edema, difficult swallowing, and difficult breathing. ELISA revealed all (6/6) positive reactions against Trichinella spiralis antigen and all cases showed positive biopsy results for Trichinella sp. larvae in the muscle. The larvae detected in the patients were identified as T. spiralis (Vietnamese strain) by the molecular analysis of the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit III (cox3) gene.

Concepts: Vietnamese language, Trichinella spiralis, Cytochrome c, Vietnam, Trichinosis, Hanoi, French Indochina, Cytochrome c oxidase subunit III


The prevalence of foodborne trematode (FBT) metacercariae was investigated in fish from 2 localities of northern Vietnam in 2004-2005. Freshwater fish (9 species) were collected from local markets in Hanoi City (n=76) and Nam Dinh Province (n=79), and were examined for FBT metacercariae using the artificial digestion technique. Adult flukes were obtained from hamsters experimentally infected with the metacercariae at day 8 post-infection. Three (Haplorchis pumilio, Centrocestus formosanus, and Procerovum varium) and 6 (Haplorchis taichui, H. pumilio, C. formosanus, P. varium, Stellantchasmus falcatus, and Heterophyopsis continua) species of FBT metacercariae were detected in the 2 regions, respectively. Overall, among the positive fish species, H. pumilio metacercariae were detected in 104 (80.0%) of 130 fish examined (metacercarial density per infected fish; 64.2). C. formosanus metacercariae were found in 37 (40.2%) of 92 fish (metacercarial density; 14.7). P. varium metacercariae were detected in 19 (63.3%) of 30 fish (Anabas testudineus and Mugil cephalus) (metacercarial density; 247.7). S. falcatus metacercariae were found in all 10 M. cephalus examined (metacercarial density; 84.4). H. continua metacercariae (2 in number) were detected in 1 fish of Coilia lindmani. Morphologic characteristics of the FBT metacercariae and their experimentally obtained adults were described. The results have demonstrated that various FBT species are prevalent in northen parts of Vietnam.

Concepts: Prevalence, Anabas testudineus, Freshwater fish, Vietnam, Hanoi, Nam Dinh Province, Red River Delta, Ngo Dinh Diem


It has been known that Arak, Salvadora persica, has a number of medicinal properties. We tried to investigate in vitro scolicidal effect of root extracts of this plant against protoscolices from hydatid cysts of Echinococcus granulosus. Protoscolices were aseptically collected from sheep livers containing hydatid cysts. S. persica root extract was used in 10, 30, and 50 mg/ml concentration for 10, 20, and 30 min. The viability of protoscolices was ascertained by 0.1% eosin staining. Scolicidal activity of S. persica extract at a concentration of 10 mg/ml was 36.3%, 50.3%, and 70.8% after 10, 20, and 30 min of exposure, respectively. The scolicidal effect of this extract at a concentration of 30 mg/ml was 52.9%, 86.7%, and 100% after 10, 20, and 30 min of exposure, respectively. S. persica extract at a concentration of 50 mg/ml, meanwhile, killed 81.4%, 100%, and 100% of protoscolices after 10, 20, and 30 min, respectively. Also, the cytotoxic potential of S. persica was assessed on human liver cells (HepG2) using trypan blue exclusion test. No cytotoxic effect was observed on HepG2 cell line. The present study confirmed for the first time that the ethanolic extract of S. persica has high scolicidal power in vitro. However, in vivo effect of this material remains to be studied for treatment of echinococcosis in humans and herbivorous animals.

Concepts: Liver, In vivo, Glycogen, Bile, In vitro, Peritoneum, Hepatocyte, Salvadora persica


The aim of this cross sectional case control study was to examine the serofrequency and serointensity of Toxoplasma gondii (Tg) IgG, IgM, and DNA among patients with schizophrenia. A total of 101 patients with schizophrenia and 55 healthy controls from Sungai Buloh Hospital, Selangor, Malaysia and University Malaya Medical Center (UMMC) were included in this study. The diagnosis of schizophrenia was made based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV). The presence of Tg infection was examined using both indirect (ELISA) and direct (quantitative real-time PCR) detection methods by measuring Tg IgG and IgM and DNA, respectively. The serofrequency of Tg IgG antibodies (51.5%, 52/101) and DNA (32.67%, 33/101) among patients with schizophrenia was significantly higher than IgG (18.2%, 10/55) and DNA (3.64%, 2/55) of the controls (IgG, P=0.000, OD=4.8, CI=2.2-10.5; DNA, P=0.000, OD=12.9, CI=2.17-10.51). However, the Tg IgM antibody between patients with schizophrenia and controls was not significant (P>0.005). There was no significant difference (P>0.005) in both serointensity of Tg IgG and DNA between patients with schizophrenia and controls. These findings have further demonstrated the strong association between the active Tg infection and schizophrenia.

Concepts: Immune system, Glycoproteins, Immunology, Antibodies, Schizophrenia, Case-control study, Toxoplasma gondii, Malaysia


Korea is successfully controlled intestinal parasitic infections owing to economic development and high health consciousness. The Division of Vectors and Parasitic Diseases (formerly the Division of Malaria and Parasitology) is in the Center for Laboratory Control of Infectious Diseases of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It has been the governmental agency responsible for controlling and leading scientific research on parasitic diseases. The Division of Vectors and Parasitic Diseases has conducted and funded basic research and disseminated the research results to various medical fields, ultimately promoting public health in Korea. Among the noteworthy achievements of this division are the national surveillance of healthcare-associated parasitic infections, prevention and control for parasitic infections, and the elimination of lymphatic filariasis from Korea. On a broader scale, the division’s research programs and academic supports were influential in preventing and treating infectious parasitic diseases through public policies and laws. In this review, we summarize the past and present role of the Division of Vectors and Parasitic Diseases in preventing and treating infectious parasitic diseases in Korea.


Acanthamoeba spp. are free-living protozoa that are opportunistic pathogens for humans. Cysteine proteases of Acanthamoeba have been partially characterized, but their biochemical and functional properties are not clearly understood yet. In this study, we isolated a gene encoding cysteine protease of A. castellanii (AcCP) and its biochemical and functional properties were analyzed. Sequence analysis of AcCP suggests that this enzyme is a typical cathepsin L family cysteine protease, which shares similar structural characteristics with other cathepsin L-like enzymes. The recombinant AcCP showed enzymatic activity in acidic conditions with an optimum at pH 4.0. The recombinant enzyme effectively hydrolyzed human proteins including hemoglobin, albumin, immunoglobuins A and G, and fibronectin at acidic pH. AcCP mainly localized in lysosomal compartment and its expression was observed in both trophozoites and cysts. AcCP was also identified in cultured medium of A. castellanii. Considering to lysosomal localization, secretion or release by trophozoites and continuous expression in trophozoites and cysts, the enzyme could be a multifunctional enzyme that plays important biological functions for nutrition, development and pathogenicity of A. castellanii. These results also imply that AcCP can be a promising target for development of chemotherapeutic drug for Acanthamoeba infections.


This study aimed to develop a new multiplex real-time PCR detection method for 3 species of waterborne protozoan parasites (Cryptosporidium parvum, Giardia lamblia, and Cyclospora cayetanensis) identified as major causes of traveler’s diarrhea. Three target genes were specifically and simultaneously detected by the TaqMan probe method for multiple parasitic infection cases, including Cryptosporidium oocyst wall protein for C. parvum, glutamate dehydrogenase for G. lamblia, and internal transcribed spacer 1 for C. cayetanensis. Gene product 21 for bacteriophage T4 was used as an internal control DNA target for monitoring human stool DNA amplification. TaqMan probes were prepared using 4 fluorescent dyes, FAMTM, HEXTM, Cy5TM, and CAL Fluor Red® 610 on C. parvum, G. lamblia, C. cayetanensis, and bacteriophage T4, respectively. We developed a novel primer-probe set for each parasite, a primer-probe cocktail (a mixture of primers and probes for the parasites and the internal control) for multiplex real-time PCR analysis, and a protocol for this detection method. Multiplex real-time PCR with the primer-probe cocktail successfully and specifically detected the target genes of C. parvum, G. lamblia, and C. cayetanensis in the mixed spiked human stool sample. The limit of detection for our assay was 2×10 copies for C. parvum and for C. cayetanensis, while it was 2×103 copies for G. lamblia. We propose that the multiplex real-time PCR detection method developed here is a useful method for simultaneously diagnosing the most common causative protozoa in traveler’s diarrhea.


Toxoplasma gondii is a ubiquitous protozoan parasite responsible for causing toxoplasmosis. Preventive measures for toxoplasmosis are currently lacking and as such, development of novel vaccines are of urgent need. In this study, we generated 2 virus-like particles (VLPs) vaccines expressing T. gondii rhoptry protein 4 (ROP4) or rhoptry protein 18 (ROP18) using influenza matrix protein (M1) as a core protein. Mice were intranasally immunized with VLPs vaccines and after the last immunization, mice were challenged with ME49 cysts. Protective efficacy was assessed and compared by determining serum antibody responses, body weight changes and the reduction of cyst counts in the brain. ROP18 VLPs-immunized mice induced greater levels of IgG and IgA antibody responses than those immunized with ROP4 VLPs. ROP18 VLPs immunization significantly reduced body weight loss and the number of brain cysts in mice compared to ROP4 VLPs post-challenge. These results indicate that T. gondii ROP18 VLPs elicited better protective efficacy than ROP4 VLPs, providing important insight into vaccine design strategy.


To investigate the prevalence of Toxoplasma gondii in pork on the market in Korea, an in-house enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for tissue fluid (CAU-tf-ELISA) was developed using a soluble extract of T. gondii RH strain tachyzoites. As the standard positive controls, the piglets were experimentally infected with T. gondii: Group A (1,000 cysts-containing bradyzoites), Group B (500 cysts-containing bradyzoites) and Group C (1.0×103 or 1.0×104 tachyzoites). The CAU-tf-ELISA demonstrated infection intensity-dependent positivity toward tissue fluids with average cut-off value 0.15: 100% for Group A, 93.8% for Group B and 40.6% for Group C. When tissue-specific cut-off values 0.066-0.199 were applied, CAU-tf-ELISA showed 96.7% sensitivity, 100% specificity, 100% positive and 90.0% negative predictive values. When compared with the same tissue fluids, performance of CAU-tf-ELISA was better than that of a commercial ELISA kit. Of the 583 Korea domestic pork samples tested, anti-T. gondii antibodies were detected from 9.1% of whole samples and 37.9% from skirt meat highest among pork parts. In the 386 imported frozen pork samples, 1.8% (skirt meat and shoulder blade) were positive for anti-T. gondii antibodies. In Korea, prevalence of anti-T. gondii antibodies in the pork on retail markets appeared high, suggesting that regulations on pig farming and facilities are necessary to supply safe pork on the tables.


Prompt diagnosis of malaria cases with rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) has been widely adopted as an effective malaria diagnostic tool in many malaria endemic countries, primarily due to their easy operation, fast result output, and straightforward interpretation. However, there has been controversy about the diagnostic accuracy of RDTs. This study was conducted to evaluate the diagnostic performances of the 2 commercially available malaria RDT kits, RapiGEN Malaria Ag Pf/Pv (pLDH/pLDH) and Asan EasyTestTM Malaria Ag Pf/Pv (HRP-2/pLDH) for their abilities to detect Plasmodium species in blood samples collected from Ugandan patients with malaria. To evaluate the diagnostic performances of these 2 RDT kits, 229 blood samples were tested for malaria infection by microscopic examination and a species-specific nested polymerase chain reaction. The detection sensitivities for P. falciparum of Malaria Ag Pf/Pv (pLDH/pLDH) and Asan EasyTestTM Malaria Ag Pf/Pv (HRP-2/pLDH) were 87.83% and 89.57%, respectively. The specificities of the 2 RDTs were 100% for P. falciparum and mixed P. falciparum/P. vivax infections. These results suggest that the 2 RDT kits showed reasonable levels of diagnostic performances for detection of the malaria parasites from Ugandan patients. However, neither kit could effectively detect P. falciparum infections with low parasitaemia (<500 parasites/μl).