Volume 58, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645


Heat-shock proteins of the 70-kD (hsp70) family are targets of humoral and cellular immune responses following bacterial or parasitic infections, including Chagas' disease. In the present study, we measured antibodies in human sera reactive with hsp70s from the cytoplasm (cy-hsp70), mitochondrion (mt-hsp70), and endoplasmic reticulum (grp78) of Trypanosoma cruzi. Of the three hsp70s tested, only grp78 detected T. cruzi infection in more than 90% of nontreated (NT) patients, with cy-hsp70 and mt-hsp70 detecting only 78% and 25% of NT patients, respectively. Reactivity of leishmanial sera was 77% with cy-hsp70, 13% with grp78, and 5% with mt-hsp70. Therefore, considering sensitivity and specificity, the best candidate for T. cruzi serodiagnosis is grp78. Combination of grp78 with a T. cruzi 24-kD flagellar calcium binding protein (FCaBP) increased the diagnostic sensitivity from 90% to 97% but increased leishmanial reactivity from 3% to 8%. To determine whether hsp70s are useful for discriminating between cured and noncured patients treated with trypanocidal drugs, we tested sera from treated noncured (TNC) patients and cured patients who have positive conventional serology, termed treated dissociated (TD). The cy-hsp70 and grp78 reacted with 74% and 68% of TNC patient sera, respectively, but these antigens did not discriminate TNC from TD patients (52% and 45% positive, respectively). The mt-hsp70 was detected by sera from few TNC patients (18%) and no TD patients. Although individual hsp70s were not useful for determining the effect of trypanocidal drugs on T. cruzi infection in individual patients, the majority of TNC patient sera (70-80%) reacted with two or three of the hsp70s. In contrast, no TD sera reacted with all three hsp70s, and 40% did not react with any of the hsp70s, indicating that the number of hsp70s detected decreases following successful treatment. Considered together, these results show that grp78 has potential as a diagnostic antigen and that absence of reactivity to all three hsp70s may be indicative of effective treatment.


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