Tropheryma whippelii DNA in Saliva of Patients Without Whipple's Disease
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Tropheryma whippelii is the causative agent of Whipple's disease, a difficult to diagnose systemic illness. Amplification of part of its 16S ribosomal RNA gene(s) has become a standard diagnostic method because of increased sensitivity as compared to classical histopathological analysis. Recently, we demonstrated the presence of T. whippelii DNA by PCR in duodenal biopsies and/or gastric juice of a considerable fraction of individuals without clinical signs of Whipple's disease. In this follow-up study, saliva and dental plaques of the same patients were screened for the presence of T. whippelii DNA. Six out of the 14 previously PCR-positive persons but none of the 17 controls had T. whippelii DNA in their saliva. Our results suggest that Whipple bacteria are ubiquitous environmental or commensal organisms causing Whipple's disease only in a particular subset of individuals, possibly those with an as yet uncharacterized immunological defect.
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