The use of ITS1 rDNA PCR in detecting pathogenic African trypanosomes.
There are 11 different pathogenic trypanosomes in trypanosomiasis endemic regions of Africa. Their detection and characterisation by molecular methods relies on species-specific primers; consequently several PCR tests have to be made on each sample. Primers ITS1 CF and ITS1 BR, previously designed to amplify the internal transcribed spacer (ITS1) of rDNA, have been evaluated for use in a universal diagnostic test for all pathogenic trypanosomes. Blood was collected from 373 cattle and 185 camels. The primers gave constant PCR products with the stocks of each taxon tested. Members of subgenus Trypanozoon (T. brucei brucei, T. evansi, T. b. rhodesiense and T. b. gambiense) gave a constant product of approximately 480 bp; T. congolense, savannah 700 bp, T. congolense kilifi 620 bp and T. congolense forest 710 bp: T. simiae 400 bp, T. simiae tsavo 370 bp, T. godfreyi 300 bp and T. vivax 250 bp. The sensitivity of the test ranged from 10 pg for Trypanozoon, T. congolense clade and T. vivax to 100 pg for T. simiae and T. godfreyi. The primers detected cases of multi-taxa samples, although the sensitivity was reduced with an increase in the combinations. A better detection rate of trypanosome DNA was recorded with buffy coats than from direct blood. With the field samples, the diagnostic sensitivity was close to the sensitivity obtained using single reactions with species-specific primers for Trypanozoon 38/40 (95%) and T. congolense savannah 30/33 (90.9%) but was lower with T. vivax 25/31 (77.4%). The primers offer promise as a routine diagnostic tool through the use of a single PCR; however, further evaluation is recommended.