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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Free-Living Amoeba as Agents of Infection. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Trophozoites in brain biopsy

Cyst in corneal scraping

Laboratory Diagnostic Methods: Acanthamoeba Species

Granulomatous amoebic encephalitis (GAE)
  • CSF examination for trophozoites and/or cysts
  • Brain biopsy looking for trophozoites (shown in the top image on the right) and/or cysts
  • Culture of brain or skin tissue
  • Indirect immunofluorescence and PCR
  • Imaging methods (eg, CT, MRI) are used to visualize brain lesions. The lesions, caused by Acanthamoeba, are not in themselves specific for the infection. Lesions are more common in the temporal and parietal lobes.
Amoebic keratitis
  • Corneal scraping (shown in the bottom image on the right) or biopsy are considered the most reliable diagnostic method
  • Culture of corneal scrapings or biopsy
  • PCR
Cutaneous acanthamoebiasis
  • Biopsy examination is the primary means of diagnosis. The image below shows an Acanthamoeba cyst in a skin biopsy
  • PCR
  • Culture of biopsied material