A systematic review of intracellular microorganisms within Acanthamoeba to understand potential impact for infection

Binod Rayamajhee, Dinesh Subedi, Hari Kumar Peguda, Mark Duncan Willcox, Fiona L. Henriquez, Nicole Carnt

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Acanthamoeba, an opportunistic pathogen is known to cause an infection of the cornea, central nervous system, and skin. Acanthamoeba feeds different microorganisms, including potentially pathogenic prokaryotes; some of microbes have developed ways of surviving intracellularly and this may mean that Acanthamoeba acts as incubator of important pathogens. A systematic review of the literature was performed in order to capture a comprehensive picture of the variety of microbial species identified within Acanthamoeba following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta‐Analysis (PRISMA) guidelines. Forty‐three studies met the inclusion criteria, 26 studies (60.5%) examined environmental samples, eight (18.6%) studies examined clinical specimens, and another nine (20.9%) studies analysed both types of samples. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) followed by gene sequencing was the most common technique used to identify the intracellular microorganisms. Important pathogenic bacteria, such as E. coli, Mycobacterium spp. and P. aeruginosa, were observed in clinical isolates of Acanthamoeba, whereas Legionella, adenovirus, mimivirus, and unidentified bacteria (Candidatus) were often identified in environmental Acanthamoeba. Increasing resistance of Acanthamoeba associated intracellular pathogens to antimicrobials is an increased risk to public health. Molecular‐based future studies are needed in order to assess the microbiome residing in Acanthamoeba, as a research on the hypotheses that intracellular microbes can affect the pathogenicity of Acanthamoeba infections.

Original languageEnglish
Article number225
Number of pages25
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • Acanthamoeba
  • Carrier
  • Co‐infection
  • Intracellular microbes
  • Survival

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