Predominance of amoeboid forms of Blastocystis hominis in isolates from symptomatic patients
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Blastocystis hominis is one of the most common human parasites that inhabit the intestinal tract. Conflicting reports continue to exist regarding the existence and the functional role of the amoeboid forms in the life cycle of the parasite. The present study investigates the presence of these forms in 20 isolates obtained from ten symptomatic and asymptomatic patients respectively. A total of 10,000 parasite cells per ml from each isolate were inoculated into three culture tubes each containing 3 ml of Jones’ medium supplemented with 10% horse serum, incubated at 37°C. The contents were examined daily for 10 days. Irregular and polymorphic amoeboid forms with multiple extended pseudopodia were observed in all isolates from symptomatic patients, while none of the isolates from asymptomatic patients showed the presence of the amoeboid forms. The amoeboid forms were initially noted on day 2 and the percentages increased from 2% to 28%, with peak percentages from day 3 to day 6. Transmission electron microscopy revealed two types of amoeboid forms; one containing a large central vacuole completely filled with tiny electron-dense granules, and the other which revealed multiple small vacuoles within the central body. The cytoplasm contained strands of electron-dense granules resembling rough endoplasmatic reticulum, which is suggestive of active protein synthesis. The surface coat of the amoeboid form surrounding the parasite showed uneven thickness. Acridine orange stained the central body yellow and the periphery orange, indicating activity at the level of nucleic acids. The amoeboid form could either be an indicator of pathogenicity of B. hominis, or the form likely to contribute to pathogenicity and be responsible for the symptoms seen in patients.
The study was funded by intensification of research in priority areas (IRPA) grant R&D 06-02-03-1012 from the Malaysian government. We like to thank the Department of Veterinary Parasitology, Murdoch University, Perth, Australia; the Department of Parasitology, Aga Khan University, Pakistan; and the Department of Parasitology, Mahidol University, Thailand for contributing the respective Blastocystis samples.
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