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Volume 50, Number 2, April 2017

Seroprevalence of Bartonella henselae in patients awaiting heart transplant in Southern Italy 


Antonietta Picascia, Chiara Pagliuca, Linda Sommese, Roberta Colicchio, Amelia Casamassimi, Francesco Labonia, Gabiria Pastore, Caterina Pagliarulo, Annunziata Gaetana Cicatiello, Francesco Castaldo, Concetta Schiano, Ciro Maiello, Ernesto Mezza, Francesco Paolo D'Armiento, Paola Salvatore, Claudio Napoli


 

Corresponding author:

Antonietta Picascia, Corresponding author. U.O.C. Division of Immunohematology, Transfusion Medicine and Transplant Immunology, Regional Reference Laboratory of Transplant Immunology, Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria, Second University of Naples, Piazza Miraglia 2, 80138, Naples, Italy. 



 

Background and purpose: 

Bartonella henselae is the etiologic agent of cat-scratch disease. B. henselae infections are responsible for a widening spectrum of human diseases, although often symptomless, ranging from self-limited to life-threatening and show different courses and organ involvement due to the balance between host and pathogen. The role of the host immune response to B. henselae is critical in preventing progression to systemic disease. Indeed in immunocompromised patients, such as solid organ transplant patients, B. henselae results in severe disseminated disease and pathologic vasoproliferation. The purpose of this study was to determine the seroprevalence of B. henselae in patients awaiting heart transplant compared to healthy individuals enrolled in the Regional Reference Laboratory of Transplant Immunology of Second University of Naples. 



 

Methods:

Serum samples of 38 patients awaiting heart transplant in comparison to 50 healthy donors were examined using immunfluorescence assay. 



 

Results:

We found a B. henselae significant antibody positivity rate of 21% in patients awaiting heart transplant (p = 0.002). There was a positive rate of 8% (p > 0.05) for immunoglobulin (Ig)M and a significant value of 13% (p = 0.02) for IgG, whereas controls were negative both for IgM and IgG antibodies against B. henselae. The differences in comorbidity between cases and controls were statistically different (1.41 ± 0.96 vs 0.42 ± 0.32; p = 0.001). 



 

Conclusion:

Although this study was conducted in a small number of patients, we suggest that the identification of these bacteria should be included as a routine screening analysis in pretransplant patients 



 

Key words:

awaiting heart transplant, Bartonella henselae, infection, seroprevalence