Volume 65, Issue 5
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645


The persistence of Trypanosoma cruzi in tissue and blood of 52 patients in the digestive form of chronic Chagas disease was studied. These patients had chagasic megaesophagus and underwent corrective surgery. Parasitologic (xenodiagnosis, hemoculture, or both), histopathologic (hematoxylin and eosin, and peroxidase-anti-peroxidase staining), and molecular (polymerase chain reaction [PCR] followed by slot-blot hybridization) tests were used in the analysis. The presence of T. cruzi, its genomic fragments, or its antigens could be detected in 98% (51 of 52) of the patients. The parasite was randomly identified in 76.9% of esophageal tissues and in 90.4% by PCR and in 73.1% by parasitologic methods from the blood. Fifty percent (26 of 52) of tissue samples had inflammation, 80.8% of which was associated with the parasite. Trypanosoma cruzi was also identified unassociated with inflammatory alterations. Higher tissue parasitism and intense inflammatory processes were observed in esophageal tissue from patients with Grade IV megaesophagus. These data demonstrate that in the digestive form of Chagas' disease, particularly in cases of megaesophagus, T. cruzi is frequently found, both in blood and tissues and may contribute to the pathogenic mechanisms involved.


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