Detection of Tropheryma whippelii DNA in a patient with AIDS
von Herbay, Axel
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A case of an AIDS patient infected with the Whipple's disease bacterium, Tropheryma whippelii, is reported. A DNA fragment with sequence specificity for the 16S rRNA gene of the bacterium was detected by PCR in a duodenal biopsy specimen from a 55-year-old male patient with AIDS and diarrhea. The biopsy specimen contained periodic acid-Schiff stain-positive macrophages which did not, however, resemble the sickleform-particle-containing cells characteristic of Whipple's disease. This observation raises two possibilities: either the patient had a coincidence of AIDS and Whipple's disease or Tropheryma whippelii acted as an opportunistic pathogen in this immunodeficient patient. The latter explanation is of interest in light of the ongoing discussion of immunologic abnormalities as predisposing factors for Whipple's disease.