Volume 63, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645


Gastrointestinal microsporidiosis is a major cause of diarrhea and wasting in persons with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). Microsporidia demonstrate properties of both true eukaryotes and prokaryotes. The biology of microsporidia makes its elimination from the gastrointestinal tract therapeutically challenging. This organism depends greatly on the host for its energy needs and reproduction; microsporidial spores are impervious to the elements. Microsporidial infection of the gastrointestinal tract, principally with Enterocytozoon bieneusi and Encephalitozoon intestinalis in patients with AIDS has been treated with different medical regimens with variable success. The less common pathogen, E. intestinalis, responds well to albendazole, making it excellent first-line therapy, but such is not the case for E. bieneusi. None of the benzimidazoles has been demonstrated to be efficacious for E. bieneusi. On the other hand, E. bieneusi has shown excellent clinical therapeutic response to either direct action with fumagillin or its analogue, TNP-470, or indirectly by immune enhancement by suppression of the HIV virus with more aggressive, highly effective antiretroviral therapy. Further work is necessary to fully establish proper therapeutic protocols and manage side effects of the treatments. Other promising forms of therapy such as polyamine inhibitors and thalidomide demonstrate certain effectiveness in treatment of microsporidian in vitro (polyamine inhibitors) and in selected cases in vivo (thalidomide). Lack of either sufficiently suggestive or definitive human studies prevents the endorsement of these modes of therapy for treatment of gastrointestinal microsporidiosis at this time.


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