The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for amplification of Toxoplasma gondii DNA was performed prospectively in the blood of 19 patients with AIDS and cerebral toxoplasmosis. The B1 gene and TGR1E sequence were used as targets and results were confirmed by hybridisation. Controls consisted of 24 HIV infected patients with tissue culture proven T gondii parasitaemia and 57 HIV infected patients without toxoplasmosis. PCR was positive with both targets in 20 of 24 samples (84%) from patients with parasitaemia. Three of 57 samples (5%) from patients without toxoplasmosis were PCR positive with either target, but none was positive with both targets. Only three of the 19 patients (16%) with cerebral toxoplasmosis had a positive PCR with both targets before the start of specific treatment. PCR performed in blood is of little diagnostic value in cases of cerebral toxoplasmosis but could be useful in patients with disseminated infection.
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