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Molecular and Morphometric Characterization of Acanthamoeba spp. from Different Water Sources of Northwest Iran as a Neglected Focus, Co-Bordered With the Country of Iraq

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      Acanthamoeba spp. is a free-living opportunistic protozoan parasites, which can be found in tap, fresh and bottled mineral waters, contact lens solutions, soil etc.


      The present study is aimed to determine the Acanthamoeba spp. on the basis of their morpho-molecular aspects in different water sources of the West Azerbaijan province, Northwest of Iran.


      In this cross-sectional study, 60 water samples were collected from rivers and tap waters during June to September 2015. The water samples were filtered through a cellulose nitrate filter and cultured on non-nutrient agar medium. The extracted DNAs were amplified and some ampliqons were sequenced using partial 18S rRNA for genotyping and phylogenetic analyses.


      Twenty-seven (45%) out of 60 water samples were positive to Acanthamoeba spp. using both culture and morphological examinations. In addition, 24 (40%) out of 27 positive samples in culture method were confirmed by PCR to be Acanthamoeba spp.


      A relatively high prevalence of Acanthamoeba spp. in rivers reflects a risk alert for threatening human health in the region. However, well hygienic status of the tap waters considering Acanthamoeba spp. cannot be ignored in western co-border regions of Iran-Iraq. This study can also serve as a platform for further explorations of water sources in Iran and neighboring countries.

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      Most cited references 25

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      Pathogenic and opportunistic free-living amoebae: Acanthamoeba spp., Balamuthia mandrillaris, Naegleria fowleri, and Sappinia diploidea.

      Among the many genera of free-living amoebae that exist in nature, members of only four genera have an association with human disease: Acanthamoeba spp., Balamuthia mandrillaris, Naegleria fowleri and Sappinia diploidea. Acanthamoeba spp. and B. mandrillaris are opportunistic pathogens causing infections of the central nervous system, lungs, sinuses and skin, mostly in immunocompromised humans. Balamuthia is also associated with disease in immunocompetent children, and Acanthamoeba spp. cause a sight-threatening infection, Acanthamoeba keratitis, mostly in contact-lens wearers. Of more than 30 species of Naegleria, only one species, N. fowleri, causes an acute and fulminating meningoencephalitis in immunocompetent children and young adults. In addition to human infections, Acanthamoeba, Balamuthia and Naegleria can cause central nervous system infections in animals. Because only one human case of encephalitis caused by Sappinia diploidea is known, generalizations about the organism as an agent of disease are premature. In this review we summarize what is known of these free-living amoebae, focusing on their biology, ecology, types of disease and diagnostic methods. We also discuss the clinical profiles, mechanisms of pathogenesis, pathophysiology, immunology, antimicrobial sensitivity and molecular characteristics of these amoebae.
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        Acanthamoeba: biology and increasing importance in human health.

         Abu Khan (2006)
        Acanthamoeba is an opportunistic protozoan that is widely distributed in the environment and is well recognized to produce serious human infections, including a blinding keratitis and a fatal encephalitis. This review presents our current understanding of the burden of Acanthamoeba infections on human health, their pathogenesis and pathophysiology, and molecular mechanisms associated with the disease, as well as virulence traits of Acanthamoeba that may be targets for therapeutic interventions and/or the development of preventative measures.
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          Free-living amoebae as opportunistic and non-opportunistic pathogens of humans and animals.

          Knowledge that free-living amoebae are capable of causing human disease dates back some 50 years, prior to which time they were regarded as harmless soil organisms or, at most, commensals of mammals. First Naegleria fowleri, then Acanthamoeba spp. and Balamuthia mandrillaris, and finally Sappinia diploidea have been recognised as etiologic agents of encephalitis; Acanthamoeba spp. are also responsible for amoebic keratitis. Some of the infections are opportunistic, occurring mainly in immunocompromised hosts (Acanthamoeba and Balamuthia encephalitides), while others are non-opportunistic (Acanthamoeba keratitis, Naegleria meningoencephalitis, and cases of Balamuthia encephalitis occurring in immunocompetent humans). The amoebae have a cosmopolitan distribution in soil and water, providing multiple opportunities for contacts with humans and animals, as evidenced by antibody titers in surveyed human populations. Although, the numbers of infections caused by these amoebae are low in comparison to other protozoal parasitoses (trypanosomiasis, toxoplasmosis, malaria, etc.), the difficulty in diagnosing them, the challenge of finding optimal antimicrobial treatments and the morbidity and relatively high mortality associated with, in particular, the encephalitides have been a cause for concern for clinical and laboratory personnel and parasitologists. This review presents information about the individual amoebae: their morphologies and life-cycles, laboratory cultivation, ecology, epidemiology, nature of the infections and appropriate antimicrobial therapies, the immune response, and molecular diagnostic procedures that have been developed for identification of the amoebae in the environment and in clinical specimens.

            Author and article information

            [1 ]Department of Parasitology and Mycology, Faculty of Medicine, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz, Iran
            [2 ]Students’ Research Committee, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz, Iran
            [3 ]Immunology Research Center, Faculty of Medicine, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz, Iran
            [4 ]Department of Laboratory Medicine, Ardabil Medical Sciences Branch, Islamic Azad University, Ardabil, Iran
            [5 ]Department of Biochemistry and Clinical Laboratories, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz, Iran
            Author notes
            [* ]Corresponding author: Aram Khezri, Department of Parasitology and Mycology, Faculty of Medicine, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz, Iran. Tel: +98-9145583850, Fax: +98-4133373745, E-mail: dr.aram66@
            Jundishapur J Microbiol
            Jundishapur J Microbiol
            Jundishapur Journal of Microbiology
            18 October 2016
            November 2016
            : 9
            : 11
            5240160 10.5812/jjm.38481
            Copyright © 2016, Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences

            This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License ( which permits copy and redistribute the material just in noncommercial usages, provided the original work is properly cited.

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