Original Paper

Parasitology Research

, Volume 106, Issue 6, pp 1371-1377

First online:

Investigations of an extraordinary endocytobiont in Acanthamoeba sp.: development and replication

  • Patrick ScheidAffiliated withLaboratory of Medical Parasitology, Central Institute of the Bundeswehr Medical Service Koblenz Email author 
  • , Bärbel HauröderAffiliated withLaboratory of Electron Microscopy, Central Institute of the Bundeswehr Medical Service
  • , Rolf MichelAffiliated withLaboratory of Medical Parasitology, Central Institute of the Bundeswehr Medical Service Koblenz

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In this article, the results of investigations concerning a parasitic endocytobiont within the host amoebae (Acanthamoeba sp.) are presented. The endocytobiont was recently isolated from the contact lens and the inflamed eye of a patient with keratitis. Light microscopy and electron microscopy were performed to provide morphological details: Light microscopy revealed the presence of ovoid microorganisms developing and proliferating within the cytoplasm of the amoebic trophozoites. Details of the unusual development of these endocytobionts within the amoebae could be studied and demonstrated by means of electron microscopy. Foldings and morphological reorganization of the microorganisms took place exclusively within the host cytoplasm. The intracellularly aggregating organisms led to the rupture of the Acanthamoeba trophozoites after proliferation. Numerous microorganisms were released, which were infectious and were subsequently ingested by hitherto uninfected acanthamoebic trophozoites. To evaluate the in vitro growth of the isolated endocytobionts (without their hosts), they were transferred to several different culture plates. There was no growth of these unique organisms on five different common cultural plates suitable for the growth of bacteria and fungi.