Volume 68, Issue 5
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645


The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is a potentially interesting diagnostic tool for detecting congenital infection at birth. We have compared the sensitivity and capacity of a group of PCR primers in detecting the complete spectrum of known lineages, and to improve and simplify the detection of infection in neonatal blood. We found that the two primers, Tcz1/Tcz2 and Diaz1/Diaz2, which target the 195-basepair satellite repeat, detected all parasitic lineages with the same sensitivity. However, the intensity of the amplicon was somewhat higher with Tcz1/Tcz2. For other tested primers (nuclear DNA primers BP1/BP2, O1/O2, Pon1/Pon2, and Tca1/Tca2 and kinetoplast DNA primers S35′/S36′ and 121/122), either the intensity of amplicons varied according to lineages or the PCR assay was less sensitive. The use of the Tcz1/Tcz2 primers, which target a tandem repetitive sequence, requires a careful determination of the appropriate amount of polymerase to avoid the formation of smears and multiple amplicon bands. The Tcz1/Tcz2 primers resulted in an intense 200-basepair amplicon with DNA extracted from blood equivalent to 0.02 parasites per assay when used with a simple DNA extraction method and of a low amount of polymerase from a standard PCR kit. To better assess such PCR protocol, we assayed 311 samples of neonatal blood previously tested by parasitologic methods. The reliability of our PCR test was demonstrated, since all the 18 blood samples from newborns with congenital infection were positive, whereas the remaining samples (30 from control newborns of uninfected mothers and 262 of 263 from babies born to infected mothers) were negative. Since our PCR method is simple, reliable, robust, and inexpensive, it appears suitable for the detection of infection in neonatal blood, even in laboratories that are not equipped for performing the PCR.


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  • Received : 20 Nov 2002
  • Accepted : 06 Feb 2003

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