- Brief report
- Open Access
Toxoplasma gondii bradyzoites and tachyzoites isolation from vitreous of atypical necrotizing retinitis
© The Author(s). 2018
- Received: 3 October 2017
- Accepted: 11 May 2018
- Published: 15 June 2018
Detection of Toxoplasma gondii cysts in vitreous of immunocompetent patient with necrotizing retinitis is extremely rare. We herein report the isolation of Toxoplasma bradyzoites and tachyzoites from the vitreous of healthy person.
A 19-year-old immunocompetent female presented with sudden loss of vision in left eye since 1 week. The BCVA was 6/6 and HM in right and left eye. The left eye finding was suggestive of diffuse necrotizing retinitis with retinal detachment. The IgM and IgG for TORCH infection were negative and HIV, HCV and HBsAg tests were also non reactive. The patient underwent diagnostic and therapeutic vitrectomy with silicon oil installation.
The vitreous toxoplasma IgG titre was found to be significantly raised to 1:16. Bradyzoites of toxoplasma were identified in H&E staining and tachyzoites of Toxoplasma were identified in Giemsa staining of vitreous sample. She received oral clindamycin and oral corticosteroid but the vision could not be restored in left eye.
Hence, atypical toxoplasmosis with necrotizing retinitis is a fulminant condition with the diagnostic and therapeutic challenge.
Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) infects up to a third of the world’s population . This prevalence can be much higher in the areas where hygiene is poor, or raw meat is routinely ingested. Around 1–3% of the infected individuals may develop potentially blinding inflammatory eye disease .
Toxoplasmosis is one of the most common global zoonoses and can infect any part of the body. They have a special affinity to the eye—specifically to the tissues of the nervous system including the retina. Since Toxoplasma is an intracellular parasite, the retina can sustain the primary insult and can manifest as necrotizing retinitis .
The diagnosis is usually based on the clinical appearance of the fundus lesion. Serological tests, imaging techniques, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), histological demonstration of the parasite, or isolation of the organism usually aid in reaching the definitive diagnosis.
However, it must be noted that the clinical diagnosis of ocular toxoplasmosis is supported by laboratory tests only in 60–85% of cases. This is mainly because the sensitivity and specificity of these tests depend on the time of sampling .
Demonstration of T. gondii cysts within the necrotic retina via biopsy is confirmatory but is rare and extremely difficult to perform [4, 5]. The tachyzoites are known to be capable of independent migration across human vascular endothelium . This could be one of the reasons why very few reports are available on demonstration of Toxoplasma organisms in tissue biopsies/cytology [7, 8], necropsy material , or enucleated eyes [10, 11]. We hereby, report the confirmation of ocular toxoplasmosis by the isolation of Toxoplasma tachyzoites and bradyzoites from the vitreous of an immunocompetent person suspected with unilateral necrotizing retinitis. Written consent from the patient and ethical approval from the Institutional Review Board were obtained.
A 19-year-old immunocompetent female presented with painful diminution of vision in the left eye since 10 days. It had a sudden onset with rapid progression. It was not associated with floaters or visual phenomena during the initiation or course of the symptoms. She denies any history of trauma, allergy, or systemic associations except for the history of jaundice 1 month back from which she has now made a total recovery. She is a waitress by profession, non-vegetarian, and gives the history of frequent consumption of undercooked meat of goat, pork, and buffalo.
A provisional diagnosis of acute granulomatous panuveitis with a retinal detachment of the left eye was made with acute retinal necrosis (ARN) as a probable cause. Tailored laboratory investigations were sent, and treatment with oral acyclovir and oral corticosteroid was started immediately. The laboratory reports for IgM and IgG for TORCH infection were negative. Serological tests for HIV, HCV, and HBsAg were also negative. PCR for herpes virus family could not be performed due to unavailability. The patient then underwent diagnostic and therapeutic vitrectomy using 23G (25 mm) (0.6 mm bore) cutter via the pars plana route. There was the presence of dense vitreous exudate with multiple atrophic holes near the ora with near total retinal detachment. The optic nerve was found to be slightly pale. The vitreous sample (0.5 ml) was retrieved and sent for cytology and toxoplasma IgG titer.
Necrotizing retinopathies represent a diagnostic and therapeutic challenge for all ophthalmologists. Commonest suspected cause is acute retinal necrosis (ARN) which carries a poor visual outcome and a high rate of complications, such as rhegmatogenous retinal detachment . However, as noted in our case, other infectious and non-infectious causes like toxoplasma retinitis and other great mimickers such as syphilis, Behcet’s disease, intraocular lymphoma, and aspergillosis also have to be borne in mind. Inadvertent use of antiviral agents and corticosteroids can be prevented by exploring the causes of necrotizing retinitis besides ARN.
Parasite of T. gondii is rarely identified in aqueous/vitreous humor samples from patients with active ocular toxoplasmosis mainly because the parasite proliferation occurs only during the early phase of infection, but the retinal damages are probably caused by subsequent inflammatory responses .
Due to the atypical clinical presentations, positive history of intake of undercooked meat, poor response to therapy, and a high clinical suspicion of atypical ocular toxoplasmosis in an immunocompetent person resorted us to proceed to vitreous cytological analysis. The seroprevalence in some part of the world including Nepal can be as high as 50% due to ingestion of water or vegetables contaminated with T. gondii oocysts and ingestion of undercooked/raw meat—which are a common dish in some Nepalese community .
Though the presence of any titer of IgG against Toxoplasma gondii in aqueous or vitreous sample is highly indicative of ocular toxoplasmosis, the sensitivity and the specificity of intraocular antibody detection have been reported only to be 63 and 89%, respectively , but positivity can range up to 95% [15, 16]. However, the drawbacks are due to the limitations of the volume of ocular fluid that can be withdrawn, presence low antibody levels present within the specimen, and risk of complications like cataract and endophthalmitis . While PCR is an easier technique for the detection of Toxoplasma DNA, the Goldmann-Witmer coefficient (GWC) detects intraocular antibody production and has shown superior results in diagnosing ocular toxoplasmosis when compared to PCR of aqueous humor .
Few reports in the literature have described the isolation of T. gondii from the eye following an episode of active retinal disease [18, 19]. Usually, it is the proliferative tachyzoite stage where the viable parasites could be isolated. We could isolate both the tachyzoite and bradyzoites form of T. gondii in the active stage. This could be due to the rapid transitional stage of tachyzoite to bradyzoites, with the formation of tissue cysts .
The help and meticulousness of cytopathologist and microbiologist are equally important to achieve a quick and accurate diagnosis as in our situation. With the advancement in sampling techniques, it may one day be possible to demonstrate this illuding protozoan in a greater proportion of ocular samples sent to the cytology laboratory.
Demonstration of cyst of T. gondii in an ocular fluid sample is extremely difficult with strong suspicion and meticulous search—a timely confirmation of the disease may prevent permanent vision loss.
RKS, SNS, and AK were involved in the case evaluation and medical and surgical management. RS, SK, and BMP carried out the laboratory diagnosis and isolated the organism. RKS and AK drafted the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Ethics approval and consent to participate
Ethical approval from the Institutional review Board and informed written consent was obtained from the patient.
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
- Nussenblatt RB (2010) Ocular toxoplasmosis. In: Uveitis: fundamentals and clinical practice, 4th edn. 14 pp 190-209Google Scholar
- Commodaro AG, Belfort RN, Rizzo LV, Muccioli C, Silveira C, Burnier MN Jr et al (2009) Ocular toxoplasmosis: an update and review of the literature. Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz 104(2):345–350View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Garweg JG, de Groot-Mijnes JD, Montoya JG (2011) Diagnostic approach to ocular toxoplasmosis. Ocul Immunol Inflamm 19(4):255–261View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
- Nijhawan R, Bansal R, Gupta N, Beke N, Kulkarni P, Gupta A (2013) Intraocular cysts of Toxoplasma gondii in patients with necrotizing retinitis following periocular/intraocular triamcinolone injection. Ocul Immunol Inflamm 21(5):396–399View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Brezin AP, Kasner L, Thulliez P, Li Q, Daffos F, Nussenblatt RB et al (1994) Ocular toxoplasmosis in the fetus: immunohistochemistry analysis and DNA amplification. Retina 14(1):19–26View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Furtado JM, Bharadwaj AS, Chipps TJ, Pan Y, Ashander LM, Smith JR (2012) Toxoplasma gondii tachyzoites cross retinal endothelium assisted by intercellular adhesion molecule-1 in vitro. Immunol Cell Biol 90(9):912–915View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
- Greven CM, Teot LA (1994) Cytologic identification of Toxoplasma gondii from vitreous fluid. Arch Ophthalmol 112(8):1086–1088View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Adán A, Sole M, Mateo C, Jean AS, Alforja S (2012) Cytologic identification of Toxoplasma gondii from subretinal aspirate. Acta Ophthalmol 90(4):392–393View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Yeo JH, Jakobiec FA, Iwamoto T, Richard G, Kreissig I (1983) Opportunistic toxoplasmic retinochoroiditis following chemotherapy for systemic lymphoma: a light and electron microscopic study. Ophthalmology 90(8):885–898View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Rao NA, Font RL (1977) Toxoplasmic retinochoroiditis: electron-microscopic and immunofluorescence studies of formalin-fixed tissue. Arch Ophthalmol 95(2):273–277View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Belfort RN, Rasmussen S, Kherani A, Lodha N, Williams G, Fernandes BF et al (2010) Bilateral progressive necrotizing retinochoroiditis in an immunocompromised patient: histopathological diagnosis. Acta Ophthalmol 88(5):614–615View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Balansard B, Bodaghi B, Cassoux N, Fardeau C, Romand S, Rozenberg F et al (2005) Necrotising retinopathies simulating acute retinal necrosis syndrome. Br J Ophthalmol 89(1):96–101View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
- Villard O, Filisetti D, Roch-Deries F, Garweg J, Flament J, Candolfi E (2003) Comparison of enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, immunoblotting, and PCR for diagnosis of toxoplasmic chorioretinitis. J Clin Microbiol 41(8):3537–3541View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
- Rai SKUM, Shrestha HG (2003) Toxoplasma infection in selected patients in Kathmandu, Nepal. Nepal Med Coll J 5(2):89–91PubMedGoogle Scholar
- Kijlstra A, Luyendijk L, Baarsma G, Rothova A, Schweitzer C, Timmerman Z et al (1989) Aqueous humor analysis as a diagnostic tool in toxoplasma uveitis. Int Ophthalmol 13(6):383–386View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Fawzy M, Mahmoud L, El Gindy A, Hegab M, Bahgat M (1998) Value of estimating intraocular antibody production in diagnosis of typical and atypical lesions of ocular toxoplasmosis. J Egypt Soc Parasitol 29(3):735–743Google Scholar
- De Groot-Mijnes JD, Rothova A, Van Loon AM, Schuller M, Ten Dam-Van Loon NH, De Boer JH et al (2006) Polymerase chain reaction and Goldmann-Witmer coefficient analysis are complimentary for the diagnosis of infectious uveitis. Am J Ophthalmol 141(2):313–318View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Holland GN (2009) Ocular toxoplasmosis: the influence of patient age. Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz 104(2):351–357View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- O'Connor G (1974) Manifestations and management of ocular toxoplasmosis. Bull N Y Acad Med 50(2):192PubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
- Sahm M, Fischer H-G, Gross U, Reiter-Owona I, Seitz HM (1997) Cyst formation by Toxoplasma gondii in vivo and in brain-cell culture: a comparative morphology and immunocytochemistry study. Parasitol Res 83(7):659–665View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar