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Hemotrophic mycoplasmas (hemoplasmas): a review and new insights into pathogenic potential



Abstract: The red cell parasites formerly known as Haemobartomlla and Eperythrozoon spp have been reclassified as hemotrophic mycoplasmas (hemoplasmas) based on strong phylogenetic evidence and 16S ribosomal RNA gene sequences. The latter form the basis for polymerase chain reaction assays used to detect infection. Candidatus designation was given to incompletely characterized species. Like other mycoplasmas, hemoplasmas are small epicellular parasites that lack a cell wall and are susceptible to tetracyclines; their circular, double-stranded DNA encodes only those gene products essential for life. Diseases caused by infection with hemoplasmas range from overt life-threatening hemolytic anemia to subtle chronic anemia, ill-thrift, and infertility. In addition, the organisms may act as cofactors in the progression of retroviral, neoplastic, and immune-mediated diseases. Intimate contact of hemoplasma organisms with RBCs leads to cell injury through immune-mediated and other mechanisms that have not yet been defined. Despite an intense immune response and even with antibiotic treatment, infected animals probably remain chronic carriers after clinical signs have resolved.