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Parasites and Vectors

, 1:40

First Online: 21 October 2008Received: 27 July 2008Accepted: 21 October 2008

Abstract

Blastocystis is a prevalent enteric protozoan that infects a variety of vertebrates. Infection with Blastocystis in humans has been associated with abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, skin rash, and other symptoms. Researchers using different methods and examining different patient groups have reported asymptomatic infection, acute symptomatic infection, and chronic symptomatic infection. The variation in accounts has lead to disagreements concerning the role of Blastocystis in human disease, and the importance of treating it. A better understanding of the number of species of Blastocystis that can infect humans, along with realization of the limitations of the existing clinical laboratory diagnostic techniques may account for much of the disagreement. The possibility that disagreement was caused by the emergence of particular pathogenic variants of Blastocystis is discussed, along with the potential role of Blastocystis infection in irritable bowel syndrome IBS. Findings are discussed concerning the role of protease-activated receptor-2 in enteric disease which may account for the presence of abdominal pain and diffuse symptoms in Blastocystis infection, even in the absence of fever and endoscopic findings. The availability of better diagnostic techniques and treatments for Blastocystis infection may be of value in understanding chronic gastrointestinal illness of unknown etiology.

AbbreviationsATCCAmerican Type Culture Collection

CWMCONSED™ preservation followed by wet mounting

FECTFormol Ethyl Acetate Concentration Technique

IBDInflammatory Bowel Disease

IBSIrritable Bowel Syndrome

IBS-cConstipation predominant Irritable Bowel Syndrome

IBS-dDiarrhea predominant Irritable Bowel Syndrome

IFAIndirect Immunofluorescence Assay

MIFMerthiolate-Iodine Concentration

PAR2Protease-Activated Receptor-2

PCRPolymerase Chain Reaction

SAFSodium Acetate-acetic acid-formalin

SSU rRNASmall subunit ribosomal RNA

Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1186-1756-3305-1-40 contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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