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Stage determination and therapeutic decision in human African trypanosomiasis: value of polymerase chain reaction and immunoglobulin M quantification on the cerebrospinal fluid of sleeping sickness patients in Côte d'Ivoire

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In human African trypanosomiasis (HAT), two disease stages are defined: the first, or haemo-lymphatic stage, and the second, or meningo-encephalitic stage. Stage determination forms the basis of therapeutic decision and is of prime importance, as the drug used to cure second-stage patients has considerable side-effects. However, the tests currently used for stage determination have low sensitivity or specificity. Two new tests for stage determination in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) were evaluated on 73 patients diagnosed with HAT in Côte d'Ivoire. The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) detecting trypanosome DNA (PCR/CSF) is an indirect test for trypanosome detection whereas the latex agglutination test detecting immunoglobulin M (LATEX/IgM) is an indicator for neuro-inflammation. Both tests were compared with classically used tests, double centrifugation and white blood cell count of the CSF. PCR/CSF appeared to be the most sensitive test (96%), and may be of use to improve stage determination. However, its value for therapeutic decision appears limited, as patients whose CSF was positive with PCR were successfully treated with pentamidine. This result confirms those of previous works that showed that some patients with trypanosomes in the CSF could be treated successfully with pentamidine. LATEX/IgM, which depending on the cut-off, showed lower sensitivity of 76% and 88%, but higher specificity of 83% and 71% for LATEX/IgM 16 and LATEX/IgM 8 respectively, appears more appropriate for therapeutic decision making.
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Keywords: Côte d'Ivoire; cerebrospinal fluid; diagnosis; human African trypanosomiasis; immunoglobulin M; polymerase chain reaction

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, Institut Pierre Richet, Bouaké, Côte d'Ivoire, France 2: Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, Dakar, Senegal 3: Department of Parasitology, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium 4: Projet de Recherches Cliniques sur la Trypanosomiase, Daloa, Côte d'Ivoire, France 5: Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, Laboratoire de Recherche et de Coordination sur les Trypanosomoses, Montpellier, France

Publication date: July 1, 2003

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