RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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Detection of Toxoplasma gondii in venous blood from AIDS patients by polymerase chain reaction.

Detection of Toxoplasma gondii in blood by means of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) may facilitate the diagnosis and follow-up of cerebral toxoplasmosis in patients with AIDS. We evaluated this approach with seven patients with tissue culture-proven parasitemia, 14 patients with presumptive cerebral toxoplasmosis, and 17 healthy human immunodeficiency virus-positive controls. Each sample of blood was assayed on three different occasions by a PCR assay based on detection of the gene encoding the P30 surface protein. A positive PCR diagnosis required positivity in at least two of the three PCR tests. None of the controls had a positive PCR diagnosis, but six of the seven patients with parasitemia did. Cerebral toxoplasmosis was confirmed in 13 of the 14 patients with a presumptive diagnosis; diagnosis by PCR was positive before treatment for 9 of these 13 patients, whereas tissue culture was positive for only 1 patient. During treatment, blood samples were taken from 14 patients at regular intervals until day 12. PCR diagnosis became negative on ethidium-stained gels, but persistent signals were observed after hybridization, in some cases, for up to 12 days after initiation of therapy. PCR on venous blood could thus be a sensitive and noninvasive method for the diagnosis of cerebral and disseminated toxoplasmosis in AIDS patients and could be a potential tool for monitoring the effects of treatment.

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