Identification and genetic characterization of Angiostrongylus cantonensis isolated from the human eye

Parasitol Res. 2023 Jul 11. doi: 10.1007/s00436-023-07922-3. Online ahead of print.


Angiostrongylus cantonensis, or the rat lungworm, is the causative agent of human angiostrongyliasis associated with eosinophilic meningitis or meningoencephalitis. Additionally, this nematode can cause ocular angiostrongyliasis, though this is rare. The worm can cause permanent damage to the affected eye and sometimes even blindness. Genetic characterization of the worm from clinical samples is limited. In the present study, we investigated the genetics of A. cantonensis recovered from a patient’s eye in Thailand. We sequenced two mitochondrial genes (cytochrome c oxidase subunit I, or COI, and cytochrome b, or cytb) and nuclear gene regions (66-kDa protein and internal transcribed spacer 2, or ITS2) from a fifth-stage larva of Angiostrongylus sample that was surgically removed from the human eye. All sequences of the selected nucleotide regions were highly similar (98-100%) to the sequences of A. cantonensis in the GenBank database. The maximum likelihood and neighbor-joining trees of the COI gene indicated that A. cantonensis was closely related to the AC4 haplotype, whereas the cytb and 66-kDa protein genes were closely clustered with the AC6 and Ac66-1 haplotypes, respectively. In addition, the phylogeny of the concatenated nucleotide datasets of the COI and cytb revealed that the worm was closely related to the Thai strain and strains from other countries. This study confirms the identification and genetic variation of the fifth-stage larvae of A. cantonensis recovered from a patient’s eye in Thailand. Our findings are important for future research on the genetic variation of A. cantonensis that causes human angiostrongyliasis.

PMID:37430031 | DOI:10.1007/s00436-023-07922-3