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Persistence of acanthamoeba antigen following acanthamoeba keratitis
  1. Y F Yanga,
  2. M Mathesonb,
  3. J K G Darta,
  4. I A Creeb
  1. aMoorfields Eye Hospital, London, UK, bInstitute of Ophthalmology, London
  1. Mr J K G Dart, Moorfields Eye Hospital, City Road, London EC1V 2PD, UKjdart{at}


AIM To investigate the hypothesis that persistent corneal and scleral inflammation following acanthamoeba keratitis is not always caused by active amoebic infection but can be due to persisting acanthamoebic antigens

METHODS 24 lamellar corneal biopsy and penetrating keratoplasty specimens were obtained from 14 consecutive patients at various stages of their disease and divided for microscopy and culture. Histological sections were immunostained and screened for the presence ofAcanthamoeba cysts by light microscopy. Cultures were carried out using partly homogenised tissues on non-nutrient agar seeded with E coli. Clinical data were obtained retrospectively from the case notes of these patients.

RESULTS Of the 24 specimens, 20 were obtained from eyes that were clinically inflamed at the time of surgery. Acanthamoeba cysts were present in 16 (80%) of these 20 specimens, while only five (25%) were culture positive. Acanthamoeba cysts were found to persist for up to 31 months after antiamoebic treatment.

CONCLUSION These findings support the hypothesis thatAcanthamoeba cysts can remain in corneal tissue for an extended period of time following acanthamoeba keratitis and may cause persistent corneal and scleral inflammation in the absence of active amoebic infection. In view of these findings, prolonged intensive antiamoebic therapy may be inappropriate when the inflammation is due to retained antigen rather than to viable organisms

  • antigens
  • Acanthamoeba
  • Acanthamoeba cyst
  • scleritis
  • keratitis

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