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Keywords:

  • Acanthamoeba ;
  • keratitis;
  • loop-mediated isothermal amplification;
  • sensitivity;
  • specificity

Abstract

A loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) assay was developed for the detection of Acanthamoeba. The sensitivity of the LAMP assay was tested using different copies of positive DNA. The specificity of the assay was tested using DNA extracted from Acanthamoeba, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Candida albicans, herpes simplex virus-1 and human corneal epithelial cells. Its effectiveness was evaluated and compared with culture, corneal smear examination and real-time PCR in corneal samples from mice with Acanthamoeba keratitis. We also tested three corneal samples from patients with suspected Acanthamoeba or fungal infection using LAMP. Loop-mediated isothermal amplification was confirmed to be very sensitive, with the lowest detection limit being ten copies/tube of Acanthamoeba DNA. The LAMP primers only amplified Acanthamoeba DNA. During the development of Acanthamoeba keratitis in mice, almost all of the positive rates of LAMP at each time post-infection were higher than those of culture or corneal smear examination. The total positive rate of LAMP was significantly higher than those of culture and corneal smear examination (p <0.05), whereas the sensitivities of LAMP and real-time PCR were comparable. However, the trends of positive change in these different test methods were generally similar. Of the three clinical corneal specimens, two with suspected Acanthamoeba keratitis tested positive for Acanthamoeba using LAMP along with culture or corneal smear examination, whereas the other suspected fungal keratitis tested negative. The LAMP assay is a simple, rapid, highly specific and sensitive method for the diagnosis of keratitis caused by Acanthamoeba.