Efficacy of recombinase polymerase amplification to diagnose trypanosoma cruzi infection in dogs with cardiac alterations from an endemic Area of Mexico

Matilde Jimenez-Coello, Thomas Shelite, Alejandro Castellanos-Gonzalez, Omar Saldarriaga, Rocio Rivero, Antonio Ortega-Pacheco, Carlos Acevedo-Arcique, Karla Amaya-Guardia, Nisha Garg, Peter Melby, Bruno L. Travi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Chagas disease is a lingering Public Health problem in Latin America with ∼5.7 million people infected with Trypanosoma cruzi. Transmission is still taking place in most countries of the Americas, including the United States. Dogs are frequently infected with T. cruzi and its high infection prevalence is associated with increased risk of Chagas disease in humans. The city of Mérida in the Yucatan peninsula is endemic for Chagas disease and canines are frequently infected with T. cruzi. The objective of this study was to evaluate the performance of a qualitative point of care (POC) molecular test (RPA-LF, recombinase polymerase amplification-lateral flow) developed in our laboratory for identifying infected dogs. We used retrospective samples of dogs that came for consultation because of cardiac alterations and proved to be infected with T. cruzi as determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), Western blot, and quantitative PCR (qPCR). The analytical sensitivity indicated that RPA-LF amplified T. cruzi DNA in samples containing almost equal to one to two parasites per reaction. Serial twofold dilutions of T. cruzi epimastigotes showed that the test had 95% (19/20) repeatability at concentrations of two parasites per reaction. The test showed no cross reactivity with human DNA or other protozoan parasites (Trypanosoma rangeli, Leishmania spp., and Plasmodium spp.). RPA-LF had the capacity to amplify all discrete typing units (DTUs I-VI) of T. cruzi that circulate in domestic or extradomestic environments. The RPA-LF had 93.2% (95% confidence interval 87.2-98.1) sensitivity and excellent agreement with qPCR used as gold standard (Cohen's Kappa test = 0.963). ELISA was positive in 96.6% (85/88) of dogs, which together with the molecular tests confirmed the frequent contact with infected triatomine bugs in the city of Mérida. These preliminary results on the diagnostic efficacy of the RPA-LF deserve further large-scale field testing of this POC test for T. cruzi infection in endemic areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)417-423
Number of pages7
JournalVector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018


  • Chagas disease
  • Mexico
  • Trypanosoma cruzi
  • diagnosis
  • dogs
  • molecular test

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


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