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Isozymic heterogeneity of Trypanosoma cruzi in the first autochthonous patients with Chagas' disease in Amazonian Brazil

Naturevolume 272pages819821 (1978) | Download Citation



CHAGAS' disease, in which the aetiological agent is Trypanosoma cruzi, is a principal cause of morbidity and mortality on the South American continent; at least 10 million people are said to be infected1. There is no vaccine or acceptable chemotherapy2, and insecticide control of domiciliated triatomine vectors (Hemiptera, Reduviidae) remains problematical. Human survivors of the acute phase of infection commonly develop electrocardiographic abnormalities, chronic cardiomyopathy and singular chagasic syndromes consisting of cardiomegaly, megacolon and megaoesophagus. T. cruzi from diverse mammals and vectors are morphologically indistinguishable3, and are prudently treated as a single entity pathogenic to man. However, heterogeneity has been suspected4 from behaviour in experimental hosts, discordant therapeutic trials, and, most notably, from both the enigmatic, disparate geographical distribution of chagasic syndromes among infected populations5 and the different descriptions of the pathogenesis of the heart disease6,7. By means of enzyme electrophoresis, we show here, for the first time, the heterogeneity of T. cruzi infecting man.

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  1. Instituto Evandro Chagas, da Fundação SESP, Caixa Postal 3, 66 000, Belém, Pará, Brazil

    •  & PETER J. TOYE
  2. Department of Medical Protozoology, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine Keppel Street, London, WC1, UK

    •  & PETER J. TOYE


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