Real-time PCR method for detection of Encephalitozoon intestinalis from stool specimens

D. M. Wolk, S. K. Schneider, N. L. Wengenack, L. M. Sloan, J. E. Rosenblatt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


The prevalence of microsporidiosis is likely underestimated due to the labor-intensive, insensitive, and non-specific clinical laboratory methods used for the diagnosis of this disease. A real-time PCR assay was designed to assess DNA extraction methods and to detect three Encephalitozoon species in feces. Modifications of the MagNA Pure LC DNA isolation kit protocol (Roche Applied Sciences, Indianapolis, Ind.) were compared by using the automated MagNA Pure LC instrument (Roche) and fecal specimens spiked with Encephalitozoon intestinalis spores. Extracted DNA was amplified by the LightCycler (Roche) PCR assay. Assay sensitivity, reproducibility, and efficiency were assessed by comparing threshold crossover values achieved with different extraction and storage conditions (fresh, refrigerated, frozen, and preserved specimens). Optimal extraction conditions were achieved by using a commercial buffer, tissue lysis buffer (Roche), as the specimen diluent. LightCycler PCR results were compared to those obtained from routine stool microscopy with trichrome blue stain. The lower limit of detection for the LightCycler PCR assay varied by storage conditions from 102 to 104 spores/ml of feces, a value which represented a significant improvement over that achieved by staining (≥1.0 × 106 spores/ml). Melting temperature analysis of the amplicons allowed for the differentiation of three Encephalitozoon species (E. intestinalis, E. cuniculi, and E. hellem). The assay is readily adaptable to the clinical laboratory and represents the first real-time PCR assay designed to detect Encephalitozoon species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3922-3928
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of clinical microbiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)


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