Molecular diagnosis of toxoplasmosis in immunocompromised patients

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Purpose of review

Toxoplasmosis in immunocompromised patients is associated with a high mortality rate. Molecular techniques are important tools to diagnose acute disease in immunocompromised patients, but there are various methods with variable efficiency. Some of them have been validated for the diagnosis of congenital toxoplasmosis, but the impact of their use has not been evaluated in immunocompromised patients.

Recent findings

Toxoplasmosis is of increasing importance in non-HIV immunocompromised patients. In addition, the picture of disease shows greater severity in South America, both in immunocompetent study participants and in congenitally infected infants. These epidemiological differences could influence the sensitivity of diagnostic methods. This review analyzes recent data on molecular diagnosis and compares them with older ones, in light of progress gained in molecular techniques and of recent epidemiological findings. Most recent studies were conducted in South America and used PCR targeting the B1 gene. PCR on blood could allow diagnosing a significant proportion of patients with ocular toxoplasmosis in Brazil.


Quantitative PCR methods with specific probes should be used to improve sensitivity and warrant specificity. Performance of quantitative PCR targeting the repeated 529 bp sequence for the diagnosis of toxoplasmosis in immunocompromised patients needs evaluation in field studies in South America and in western countries.

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