A single-tube multiprobe real-time PCR assay for simultaneous detection of Entamoeba histolytica and Entamoeba dispar was developed. One primer pair with 2 species-specific probes was designed based on new SSU RNA regions of the ribosomal DNA-containing episome. The sensitivity is 1 parasite per milliliter of feces and thus superior to the conventional nested PCR and comparable to other published real-time PCR protocols. The applicability for clinical diagnosis was validated with 218 stool specimens from patients. A total of 51 E. histolytica and 39 E. dispar positive samples was detected by the multiprobe real-time PCR compared to 39 and 22 by routine nested PCR diagnosis. The detection rate of Entamoeba species for the multiprobe real-time PCR assays was significantly higher than the nested PCR (40.8% vs. 28.0%, P < 0.01). The test did not show cross reactivity with DNA from Entamoeba moshkovskii, Giardia lamblia, Cryptosporidium sp., Escherichia coli, or other nonpathogenic enteric parasites. The multiprobe real-time PCR assay is simple and rapid and has high specificity and sensitivity. The assay could streamline the laboratory diagnosis procedure and facilitate epidemiological investigation.

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