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1.  Characterization of Digestive Involvement in Patients with Chronic T. cruzi Infection in Barcelona, Spain 
Background
Digestive damage due to Chagas disease (CD) occurs in 15–20% of patients diagnosed as a result of peristaltic dysfunction in some endemic areas. The symptoms of chronic digestive CD are non-specific, and there are numerous confounders. Diagnosis of CD may easily be missed if symptoms are not evaluated by a well trained physician. Regular tests, as barium contrast examinations, probably lack the necessary sensitivity to detect early digestive damage.
Methods
71 individuals with T. cruzi infection (G1) and 18 without (G2) coming from Latin American countries were analyzed. They were asked for clinical and epidemiological data, changes in dietary habits, and history targeting digestive and cardiac CD symptoms. Serological tests for T. cruzi, barium swallow, barium enema, an urea breath test, and esophageal manometry were requested for all patients.
Principal findings
G1 and G2 patients did not show differences in lifestyle and past history. Fifteen (21.1%) of G1 had digestive involvement. Following Rezende criteria, esophagopathy was observed in 8 patients in G1 (11.3%) and in none of those in G2. Manometry disorders were recorded in 34 G1 patients and in six in G2. Isolated hypotensive lower esophageal sphincter (LES) was found in sixteen G1 patients (23.9%) and four G2 patients (28.8%). Achalasia was observed in two G1 patients. Among G1 patients, ineffective esophageal motility was seen in six (five with symptoms), diffuse esophageal spasm in two (one with dysphagia and regurgitation), and nutcracker esophagus in three (all with symptoms). There were six patients with hypertonic upper esophageal sphincter (UES) among G1. Following Ximenes criteria, megacolon was found in ten G1 patients (13.9%), and in none of the G2 patients.
Conclusions
The prevalence of digestive chronic CD in our series was 21.1%. Dysphagia is a non-pathognomonic symptom of CD, but a good marker of early esophageal involvement. Manometry could be a useful diagnostic test in selected cases, mainly in patients with T. cruzi infection and dysphagia in whose situation barium swallow does not evidence alterations. Constipation is a common but non-specific symptom that can be easily managed. Testing for CD is mandatory in a patient from Latin America with constipation or dysphagia, and if diagnosis is confirmed, megacolon and esophageal involvement should be investigated.
Author Summary
Digestive damage due to Chagas disease (CD), which symptoms are non-specific, occurs in 15–20% of patients as a result of peristaltic dysfunction. The results of this study with 71 individuals with T. cruzi infection and 18 without it coming from Latin American countries and performed in a non endemic setting showed that the prevalence of digestive chronic CD was 20.8% in T. cruzi infected patients. Dysphagia is a non-pathognomonic symptom of CD, but a good marker of early esophageal involvement. Manometry could be a useful diagnostic test in selected cases, mainly in patients with T. cruzi infection and dysphagia in whose situation barium swallow does not evidence alterations. Constipation is a common but non-specific symptom that can be easily managed. Testing for CD is mandatory in a patient from Latin America with constipation or dysphagia, and if diagnosis is confirmed, megacolon and esophageal involvement should be investigated.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0003105
PMCID: PMC4140677  PMID: 25144648
2.  Inflammatory Responses in Blood Samples of Human Immunodeficiency Virus-Infected Patients with Pulmonary Infections 
We analyzed the characteristics of the inflammatory response occurring in blood during pulmonary infections in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients. A prospective study of consecutive hospital admissions of HIV-infected patients with new-onset radiologic pulmonary infiltrates was carried out in a tertiary university hospital from April 1998 to May 2001. Plasma cyclic AMP receptor protein (CRP), interleukin 1β (IL-1β), IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) levels were determined at the time of admission and 4, 5, and 6 days later. Patients were included in a protocol addressed to study etiology and outcome of disease. A total of 249 episodes of infection were included, with the main diagnoses being bacterial pneumonia (BP) (118 episodes), Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) (41 episodes), and mycobacteriosis (36 episodes). For these three patient groups, at the time of admission the median CRP and cytokine levels were as follows: CRP, 10.2, 3.8 and 5 mg/dl, respectively (P = 0.0001); IL-8, 19, 3, and 2.9 pg/ml (P = 0.045); and TNF-α, 46.4, 44, and 75 pg/ml, respectively (P = 0.029). There were no significant differences in levels of IL-1β, IL-6, or IL-10 among the patient groups. A total of 23 patients died. At the time of admission, HIV-infected patients with BP had higher plasma CRP and IL-8 levels than did PCP and mycobacteriosis patients. TNF-α levels were higher in patients with mycobacteriosis. An elevated IL-8 level (>61 pg/ml) at the time of admission was an independent factor associated with higher mortality (odds ratio, 12; 95% confidence interval, 1.2 to 235.5).
doi:10.1128/CDLI.11.3.608-614.2004
PMCID: PMC404570  PMID: 15138189

Results 1-2 (2)