Update on laboratory diagnosis of amoebiasis

  • Syazwan Saidin
  • Nurulhasanah Othman
  • Rahmah Noordin


Amoebiasis, an enteric protozoan disease caused by Entamoeba histolytica, is a public health problem in many developing countries, causing up to 100,000 fatal cases annually. Detection of the pathogenic E. histolytica and its differentiation from the non-pathogenic Entamoeba spp. play a crucial role in the clinical management of patients. Laboratory diagnosis of intestinal amoebiasis in developing countries still relies on labour-intensive and insensitive methods involving staining of stool sample and microscopy. Newer and more sensitive methods include a variety of antigen detection ELISAs and rapid tests; however, their diagnostic sensitivity and specificity seem to vary between studies, and some tests do not distinguish among the Entamoeba species. Molecular detection techniques are highly sensitive and specific and isothermal amplification approaches may be developed into field-applicable tests; however, cost is still a barrier for their use as a routine laboratory test method in most endemic areas. Laboratory diagnosis of extraintestinal amoebiasis faces challenges of lack of definitive detection of current infection and commercially available point-of-care tests. For both types of amoebiasis, there is still a need for highly sensitive and specific tests that are rapid and cost-effective for use in developing countries where the disease is prevalent. In recent years, new molecules of diagnostic value are being discovered and new tests developed. The advances in ‘omics’ technologies are enabling discoveries of new biomarkers that may help distinguish between different infection stages.


Amoebiasis Entamoeba histolytica Entamoeba dispar Laboratory Diagnosis 


Funding information

We would like to acknowledge the funding assistance from the Malaysian Ministry of Education through the Higher Institution Centre of Excellence Program (HICoE) [Grant no. 311/CIPPM/4401005].


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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  • Syazwan Saidin
    • 1
    • 2
  • Nurulhasanah Othman
    • 1
  • Rahmah Noordin
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Research in Molecular MedicineUniversiti Sains MalaysiaPenangMalaysia
  2. 2.Department of Biology, Faculty of Science and MathematicsSultan Idris Education UniversityTanjung MalimMalaysia

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