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Very low prevalence of Mansonella perstans-specific cell-free DNA in serum samples of Ghanaian HIV patients.

BACKGROUND: Mansonellosis is a widely neglected helminth disease which is predominantly observed in tropical regions. This study was conducted to assess potential associations of the prevalence of circulating Mansonella perstans-specific cell-free DNA in human serum and HIV infection in Ghanaian individuals.

METHODS: For this purpose, serum samples obtained from Ghanaian HIV-patients (n = 989) and non-HIV-infected Ghanaian control individuals (n = 91) were subjected to real-time PCR targeting the ITS-(internal transcribed spacer-)2 sequence of M. perstans and Mansonella sp. Deux.

RESULTS: Mansonella-specific cell-free DNA was detected in serum samples of only 2 HIV-positive and 0 HIV-negative individuals, making any reliable conclusions on potential associations between HIV and mansonellosis in tropical Ghana unfeasible.

CONCLUSIONS: Future epidemiological studies on hypothetical associations between mansonellosis and HIV infections should focus more specifically on high-endemicity settings for both Mansonella spp.-infections and HIV-infections, include higher case numbers and be based on real-time PCR from whole blood rather than from serum, in which only circulating parasite DNA but no more cell-bound parasite DNA can be detected. However, the study did not show associations of HIV infections in Ghanaian individuals with Mansonella worm loads high enough to detect cell-free Mansonella DNA in serum by PCR.

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