Virulence parameters in the characterization of strains of Entamoeba histolytica

Differences in virulence of strains of Entamoeba histolytica have long been detected by various experimental assays, both in vivo and in vitro. Discrepancies in the strains characterization have been arisen when different biological assays are compared. In order to evaluate different parameters of virulence in the strains characterization, five strains of E. histolytica, kept under axenic culture, were characterized in respect to their, capability to induce hamster liver abscess, erythrophagocytosis rate and cytopathic effect upon VERO cells. It was found significant correlation between in vitro biological assays, but not between in vivo and in vitro assays. Good correlation was found between cytopathic effect and the mean number of uptaken erythrocytes, but not with percentage of phagocytic amoebae, showing that great variability can be observed in the same assay, according to the variable chosen. It was not possible to correlate isoenzyme and restriction fragment pattern with virulence indexes since all studied strains presented pathogenic patterns. The discordant results observed in different virulence assays suggests that virulence itself may not the directly assessed. What is in fact assessed are different biological characteristics or functions of the parasite more than virulence itself. These characteristics or functions may be related or not with pathogenic mechanisms occurring in the development of invasive amoebic disease

Entamoeba hystolytica; Virulence assays; Izoenzyme patterns; Restriction fragments analysis

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