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2022 Jun 01

Trop Biomed



Central nervous system infections caused by pathogenic free-living amoebae: An Indian perspective.


Raju R, Khurana S, Mahadevan A, John DV
Trop Biomed. 2022 Jun 01; 39(2):265-280.
PMID: 35838101.


Pathogenic free-living amoebae (FLA), namely Acanthamoeba sp., Naegleria fowleri and Balamuthia mandrillaris are distributed worldwide. These neurotropic amoebae can cause fatal central nervous system (CNS) infections in humans. This review deals with the demographic characteristics, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment outcomes of patients with CNS infections caused by FLA documented in India. There have been 42, 25, and 4 case reports of Acanthamoeba granulomatous amoebic encephalitis (GAE), N. fowleri primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), and B. mandrillaris meningoencephalitis (BAE), respectively. Overall, 17% of Acanthamoeba GAE patients and one of the four BAE patients had some form of immunosuppression, and more than half of the N. fowleri PAM cases had history of exposure to freshwater. Acanthamoeba GAE, PAM, and BAE were most commonly seen in males. Fever, headache, vomiting, seizures, and altered sensorium appear to be common symptoms in these patients. Some patients showed multiple lesions with edema, exudates or hydrocephalus in their brain CT/MRI. The cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of these patients showed elevated protein and WBC levels. Direct microscopy of CSF was positive for amoebic trophozoites in 69% of Acanthamoeba GAE and 96% of PAM patients. One-fourth of the Acanthamoeba GAE and all the BAE patients were diagnosed only by histopathology following autopsy/biopsy samples. Twenty-one Acanthamoeba GAE survivors were treated with cotrimoxazole, rifampicin, and ketoconazole/amphotericin B, and all eleven PAM survivors were treated with amphotericin B alongside other drugs. A thorough search for these organisms in CNS samples is necessary to develop optimum treatment strategies.