Parasitology Research

, Volume 117, Issue 4, pp 971–980 | Cite as

Does Dientamoeba fragilis cause diarrhea? A systematic review

  • Zing-Wae Wong
  • Kate Faulder
  • Joan L. Robinson
Original Paper


It remains controversial whether Dientamoeba fragilis is a commensal parasite or a pathogen. The objective of this systematic review was to establish the strength of the evidence that Dientamoeba fragilis would cause diarrhea. A search was performed for studies that reported either the association between D. fragilis detection in stools and diarrhea or diarrhea outcomes with D. fragilis therapy or challenge. Data from seven studies of specific populations reported that 22% had D. fragilis in stools of which only 23% had diarrhea. Eleven studies of stool samples submitted to laboratories reported that 4.3% of individuals had D. fragilis of which 54% had diarrhea. Twelve studies reported that D. fragilis was detected from 1.6% of individuals with diarrhea and 9.6% of diarrheal stools. Five studies analyzed the prevalence of D. fragilis in individuals with and without diarrhea; the two with a statistically significant difference between groups had discordant results. The only cohort study with an appropriate control group reported diarrhea in a higher proportion of children with D. fragilis than in controls. No D. fragilis treatment studies included diarrhea as an outcome. There were only two challenge studies involving one person each. In conclusion, the evidence that D. fragilis would cause diarrhea or that treatment would hasten diarrhea resolution is inconclusive.


Dientamoeba fragilis Diarrhea Parasite Systematic review 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.EdmontonCanada

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