Invasive Amebiasis in Naturally Infected New World and Old World Monkeys with and without Clinical Disease

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  • Department of Tropical Medicine, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Tulane University, Department of Pathology, Delta Region Primate Research Center, Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana 70112

Histopathological preparations of cecum and colon from monkeys naturally infected with invasive Entamoeba histolytica were examined to determine the distribution of amebae in the tissues and the types of lesions, if any, associated with them. Infections were studied in 3 New World species (10 Callicebus moloch, 1 C. torquatus, and 2 Aotus trivirgatus) and 3 Old World species (8 Macaca mulatta, 6 Erythrocebus patas, and 1 Cercopithecus aethiops). Amebiasis was recorded as the principal or a contributing cause of death of all of the 13 New World monkeys and in 6 of the 15 Old World monkeys; amebiasis was detected in the rest of the monkeys only after tissues were re-examined specifically for amebae. Amebae causing no apparent damage were found in the lamina propriae, mainly at the muscularis mucosae. Most frequent were colonies or aggregates of amebae in the crypts between the epithelium and basement membrane, causing either no evident necrosis or changes ranging from necrosis and disarrangement of adjacent cells to complete destruction of the epithelium and reduction of the cells to pyknotic bodies. A lesion interpreted as possibly characteristic of carrier-state invasive amebiasis was destruction of the epithelium in patches of mucosal crypts, not leading to ulceration. Uncommon but present in both New and Old World monkeys were typical areas of surface erosion and classical flask-shaped ulcers. The observations show that in some species of Old World monkeys amebiasis can be invasive without causing clinical disease.

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