• Ingo Sobottka
  • Christel Schmetz
  • Justus Schottelius


Microsporidia is the term for obligate intracellular parasites that belong to the phylum Microsporidia, Balbiani 1882 [1, 2], which consists of more than 140 genera and over 1,200 species. First recognized in 1857 as pathogens in silkworms [3], these ubiquitous organisms were found to infect a wide range of vertebrates and invertebrates including insects, fish, and mammals [4–6]. After the first description of a human microsporidial infection in 1959 [7], reports of clinical disease due to microsporidia were rare, until 1985, when Enterocytozoon (Ent.) bieneusi, a new microsporidian, was detected in human immunodeficiency virus (HlV)-infected patients with chronic diarrhea [8]. Since then, the role of microsporidia as important pathogens in both immunocompromised and immunocompetent patients has been recognized increasingly [9–11]. To date, seven microsporidian genera (Enterocytozoon, Encephalitozoon, Pleistophora, Trachipleistophora, Nosema, Brachiola, Vittaforma) and an unclassified microsporidian group (Microsporidium spp.) with at least 14 species (Table 1) have been described as pathogens in humans [4, 12–14].


Polar Tube Chronic Diarrhea Polar Filament Host Cell Cytoplasm Microsporidian Spore 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Italia 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ingo Sobottka
  • Christel Schmetz
  • Justus Schottelius

There are no affiliations available

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