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Infections are still among the most important causes of morbidity and mortality in patients with lung cancer, which has the highest rate of cancer-related deaths in the world. Microsporidia, which are opportunistic parasitic fungi, primarily localize to the intestine by ingestion but can disseminate to the respiratory tract or can be acquired by spore inhalation. Cancer patients are at higher risk for microsporidia, a life-threatening infection, than the normal population is. We aimed to characterize the prevalence of microsporidia infection for the first time by evaluating the intestinal and respiratory tracts of patients with lung cancer. In this study, we investigated 98 patients with lung cancer and 103 healthy individuals for microsporidia infection and evaluated the clinical findings of patients who were found to be positive. Sputum and stool samples were tested by microscopic examination, in addition to pan-microsporidia and genus-specific polymerase chain reactions. Nine patients with lung cancer had positive results for microsporidia (9.2%), which was significantly higher than the rate in healthy individuals (P = 0.008), and most of them had clinical findings. Among these positive patients, polymerase chain reaction revealed microsporidia in the sputum samples of seven patients, the stool sample of one patient, and both the sputum and stool samples of one patient. Encephalitozoon cuniculi was identified as the predominant pathogen in 87.5% (7/8) of positive sputum samples. Microsporidia infection was significantly associated with advanced stages of cancer. However, in the control group, Encephalitozoon intestinalis was detected in the stool sample of an individual without clinical symptoms. Microsporidia, especially E. cuniculi, should be considered as a cause of respiratory tract infection as well as intestinal infection in cancer patients and should be screened in respiratory samples of these patients when they have pulmonary symptoms.
Disclosure: The study was approved by the ethics committees of Izmir Dr. Suat Seren Hospital, number 2020-KAEK-139 and Ege University, number 19-9T/66.
Authors’ addresses: Ozlem Ulusan Bagci, Ataturk Training and Research Hospital, Microbiology Laboratory, Izmir Katip Celebi University, Izmir, Turkey, and Institute of Health Sciences, Department of Basic Oncology, Ege University, Izmir, Turkey, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Can Muftuoglu, Institute of Health Sciences, Department of Basic Oncology, Ege University, Izmir, Turkey, and Translational Pulmonary Research Center, Ege University (EgeSAM), Izmir, Turkey, E-mail: email@example.com. Filiz Guldaval and Gulru Polat, Chest Disease Department, Izmir Dr. Suat Seren Chest Disease and Surgery Training and Research Hospital, Izmir, Turkey, E-mails: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Damla Serce Unat, Institute of Health Sciences, Department of Basic Oncology, Ege University, Izmir, Turkey, and Chest Disease Department, Izmir Dr. Suat Seren Chest Disease and Surgery Training and Research Hospital, Izmir, Turkey, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Ufuk Mert, Institute of Health Sciences, Department of Basic Oncology, Ege University, Izmir, Turkey, Translational Pulmonary Research Center, Ege University (EgeSAM), Izmir, Turkey, and Ataturk Health Care Vocational School, Ege University, Izmir, Turkey, E-mail: email@example.com. Seray Ozensoy Toz, Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine, Ege University, Izmir, Turkey, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Myeong Hee Moon, Department of Chemistry, Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea, E-mail: email@example.com. Ayse Caner, Institute of Health Sciences, Department of Basic Oncology, Ege University, Izmir, Turkey, Translational Pulmonary Research Center, Ege University (EgeSAM), Izmir, Turkey, and Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine, Ege University, Izmir, Turkey, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.