Meloni, Dionigia and Sanciu, Giovanna and Poirier, Philippe and El Alaoui, Hicham and Chabé, Magali and Delhaes, Laurence and Dei-Cas, Eduardo and Delbac, Frédéric and Fiori, Pier Luigi and Di Cave, David and Viscogliosi, Eric (2011) Molecular subtyping of Blastocystis sp. isolates from symptomatic patients in Italy. Parasitology Research, Vol. 109 (3), p. 613-619. eISSN 1432-1955. Article.
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Blastocystis sp. is the most common eukaryotic parasite in the intestinal tract of humans. Due to its potential impact in public health, we determined the Blastocystis sp. subtypes (STs) and their relative frequency in symptomatic patients living in or in the vicinity of two Italian cities (Rome and Sassari). A total of 34 Blastocystis sp. isolates corresponding to 26 single and 4 mixed infections were subtyped using partial small subunit ribosomal RNA gene sequencing. From this molecular approach, the ST distribution in the present Italian population was as follows: ST3 (47.1%), ST2 (20.6%), ST4 (17.7%), ST1 (8.8%), and ST7, and ST8 (2.9%). As in almost all countries worldwide, ST3 was the most common ST reinforcing the hypothesis of its human origin. Together with a previous preliminary report, a total of seven STs (with the addition of ST5) have been found in Italian symptomatic patients. The wide range of STs identified in the Italian population suggest that Blastocystis sp. infection is not associated with specific STs even if some STs (ST1–ST4) are predominant as reported in all other countries. Since most of the STs identified in Italian patients are zoonotic, our data raise crucial questions concerning the identification of animal reservoirs for Blastocystis sp. and the potential risks of transmission to humans.
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