Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy for Detection of <em>Schistosoma mansoni</em> Eggs in the Gut of Mice

<div><h3>Background</h3><p>The gold standard for diagnosing <em>Schistosoma mansoni</em> infections is the detection of eggs from stool or biopsy specimens. The viability of collected eggs can be tested by the miracidium hatching procedure. Direct detection methods are often limited in patients with light or early infections, whereas serological tests and PCR methods fail to differentiate between an inactive and persistent infection and between schistosomal species. Recently, confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) has been introduced as a diagnostic tool in several fields of medicine. In this study we evaluated CLSM for the detection of viable eggs of <em>S. mansoni</em> directly within the gut of infected mice.</p> <h3>Methodology/Principal Findings</h3><p>The confocal laser scanning microscope used in this study is based on the Heidelberg Retina Tomograph II scanning laser system in combination with the Rostock Cornea Module (image modality 1) or a rigid endoscope (image modality 2). Colon sections of five infected mice were examined with image modalities 1 and 2 for schistosomal eggs. Afterwards a biopsy specimen was taken from each colon section and examined by bright-field microscopy. Visualised eggs were counted and classified in terms of viability status.</p> <h3>Conclusions/Significance</h3><p>We were able to show that CLSM visualises eggs directly within the gut and permits discrimination of schistosomal species and determination of egg viability. Thus, CLSM may be a suitable non-invasive tool for the diagnosis of schistosomiasis in humans.</p> </div>