Japanese spotted fever (JSF) is caused by Rickettsia japonica, and lethal cases are reported yearly in southwest Japan. We thus established the method of diagnosing JSF by immunohistochemistry (IHC) and real-time PCR (RT-PCR) using formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded skin biopsy specimens. Two monoclonal antibodies were used for IHC, and the 17k genus common antigen gene served as the target of RT-PCR. We collected skin biopsy (n=61) and autopsy (n=1) specimens from 50 patients clinically suspected of JSF. Immunohistochemically, the rickettsial antigens were localized as coarse dots in the cytoplasm of endothelial cells and macrophages. Thirty-one seropositive cases plus one autopsy case (group A) and nine seronegative cases but with positive IHC and/or RT-PCR (group B) were judged as JSF. Nine cases were regarded as non-JSF disorders based on negative serology, IHC and RT-PCR (group C). Of 50 biopsies (eschar 34, eruptions 10, and scabs 6) from groups A and B, IHC and RT-PCR positivities were 94% (32/34) and 62% (21/34) for eschar, 80% (8/10) and 30% (3/10) for eruptions, and 33% (2/6) and 50% (3/6) for scabs. For IHC, eschar was most suitable, and scabs were insufficient. Unexpectedly, 18 biopsies happened to be fixed in 100% formalin, and this lowered the detection rate by RT-PCR, but IHC was tolerant. Sequence analysis using five skin biopsy specimens confirmed a 114bp DNA stretch homologous to that reported for the target gene of R. japonica. In 26 (84%) of the 31 seropositive patients, the diagnosis was made by IHC and/or RT-PCR earlier than serology.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Microbiology (medical)
- Infectious Diseases