Congenital Chagas disease in Santa Cruz Department, Bolivia, is dominated by Trypanosoma cruzi lineage V

16 Jun 2021
Leny Sanchez, Louisa A Messenger, Tapan Bhattacharyya, Robert H Gilman, Holger Mayta, Rony Colanzi, Ricardo Bozo, Manuela Verástegui, Michael A Miles, Caryn Bern


This study identified Trypanosoma cruzi discrete typing units (DTUs) in maternal and infant specimens collected from two hospitals in Bolivia, using conventional genotyping and DTU-specific serotyping.


Specimens from 142 mothers were used, including 24 seronegative and 118 seropositive individuals; 29 women transmitted T. cruzi to their infants. Maternal and infant parasite loads were determined by quantitative real-time PCR. Maternal sera were tested with an in-house parasite lysate ELISA and serotyped by a lineage-specific peptide ELISA, targeting the trypomastigote small surface antigen (TSSA). Trypanosoma cruzi genotypes in infected infants were determined by a triple PCR-RFLP assay.


All infant specimens were genotyped as TcV. Maternal parasite loads and absorbance values by the lysate ELISA were significantly higher for transmitters compared with non-transmitters. Among seropositive mothers, 65.3% had positive results by the TSSA II/V/VI peptide ELISA. No significant difference in reactivity to TSSA II/V/VI was observed for transmitters compared with non-transmitters (79.3% vs 60.7%, respectively).


Our findings reinforce the difficulty in obtaining sufficient sample numbers and parasite DNA to investigate the interaction between parasite genetics and the risk of congenital transmission and argue for the inclusion of DTU-specific serotyping in prospective studies.