is an opportunistic intestinal infection that causes diarrhea
and wasting in immunocompromised
, for example). It results from different species of microsporidia
, a group of protozoal
Recently, there has been evidence that the causative agent is more fungal than protozoal, and some sources classify microsporidiosis as a mycosis.
In HIV infected individuals, microsporidiosis generally occurs when CD4+ T cell counts fall below 100.
At least 14 microsporidian species have been recognized as human pathogens
, spread across eight genera:
(Coded to Microsporidiosis 01.png at right).
- The infective form of microsporidia is the resistant spore and it can survive for an exteneded period of time in the environment.
- The spore extrudes its polar tubule and infects the host cell.
- The spore injects the infective sporoplasm into the eukaryotic host cell through the polar tubule.
- Inside the cell, the sporoplasm undergoes extensive multiplication either by merogony (binary fission) or schizogony (multiple fission).
- This development can occur either in direct contact with the host cell cytoplasm (E. bieneusi) or inside a vacuole called a parasitophorous vacuole (E. intestinalis). Either free in the cytoplasm or inside a parasitophorous vacuole, microsporidia develop by sporogony to mature spores.
- During sporogony, a thick wall is formed around the spore, which provides resistance to adverse environmental conditions. When the spores increase in number and completely fill the host cell cytoplasm, the cell membrane is disrupted and releases the spores to the surroundings.
- These free mature spores can infect new cells thus continuing the cycle.