Diagnosis of female genital schistosomiasis by indirect disease markers: Determination of eosinophil cationic protein, neopterin and IgA in vaginal fluid and swab eluates

Gabriele Poggensee, Claus Michael Reimert, Lars Ake Nilsson, Shabbar Jamaly, Aimee Sjastad, Borghild Roald, Eyrun Floerecke Kjetland, Gertrud Helling-Giese, Joachim Richter, Lester Chitsulo, Newton Kumwenda, Svein Gunnar Gundersen, Ingela Krantz, Hermann Feldmeier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Based on assumptions about the pathophysiology of egg-related lesions in the lower reproductive tract, putative indirect disease markers were investigated in vaginal fluids from 54 Malawi adolescent girls and women infected with S. haematobium. These women received a careful gynecological examination during which biopsies were taken from the cervix, and, if present, also from suspicious lesions in the vagina and the vulva. If the biopsies, either in wet crushed preparations or in histological sections, contained eggs the patients were considered to have female genital schistosomiasis (FGS; n = 33). The remainder (n = 21) were classified as having urinary schistosomiasis only. Eosinophil cationic protein (ECP), a cytotoxic granule protein of eosinophils, neopterin, a second messenger molecule generated during the activation of macrophages, and IgA as an indicator of local B-cell activation were quantitatively determined in vaginal fluid. To clarify the origin of ECP, this protein was also looked for in histological sections by an immunohistochemical method. In order to explore whether such disease markers can be detected after absorption to a tampon-like material, ECP and IgA were also assessed after elution from a non-porous, polypropylene fibre web impregnated with vaginal fluid. The concentration of ECP in vaginal fluid and the degree of immunohistochemical staining in histological sections were significantly higher in patients with FGS than in women with urinary schistosomiasis only. The amount of ECP detected in histological sections correlated to the number of eggs/mm2 of compressed genital tissue (rho = 0.36, P = 0.02), and the concentration of ECP in vaginal fluid correlated to the concentration of neopterin as well as to that of IgA (rho = 0.52, P = 0.004 and rho = 0.37, P = 0.02, respectively). Median neopterin concentration in vaginal fluid was also higher in the FGS group, but the difference was not statistically significant. ECP could also be detected in eluates from impregnated fibre webs, but the concentration was approximately one power of 10 less than in the original vaginal fluid. These results demonstrate that indicators of immunological mechanisms related to the egg-granuloma might be useful as indirect disease markers for women with FGS if assessed in vaginal washings or swab eluates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)269-280
Number of pages12
JournalActa Tropica
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 30 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • diagnosis
  • eosinophil cationic protein
  • female genital schistosomiasis
  • immunohistochemistry
  • indirect disease markers
  • neopterin
  • vaginal fluid iga
  • women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • veterinary (miscalleneous)
  • Insect Science
  • Infectious Diseases


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