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Immaculata Xess 1 Article
Acid-Fastness of Histoplasma in Surgical Pathology Practice
Madhu Rajeshwari, Immaculata Xess, Mehar Chand Sharma, Deepali Jain
J Pathol Transl Med. 2017;51(5):482-487.   Published online September 14, 2017
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AbstractAbstract PDF
Histoplasmosis (HP) is diagnosed by visualizing intracellular microorganisms in biopsy and/or culture. Periodic-acid Schiff (PAS) and Gomori methenamine silver (GMS) staining methods are routinely used for identification. The acid-fast property of Histoplasma was identified decades ago, but acid-fast staining has not been practiced in current surgical pathology. Awareness of the acid-fast property of Histoplasma, which is due to mycolic acid in the cell wall, is important in distinguishing Histoplasma from other infective microorganisms. Here, we examined acid-fastness in previously diagnosed cases of Histoplasma using the Ziehl-Neelsen (ZN) stain and correlated those findings with other known fungal stains. Methods: All cases diagnosed as HP were retrieved and reviewed along with ZN staining and other fungal stains. We also stained cases diagnosed with Cryptococcus and Leishmania as controls for comparison. Results: A total of 54 patients ranging in age from 11 to 69 years were examined. The most common sites of infection were the skin, adrenal tissue, and respiratory tract. Of the total 43 tissue samples, 20 (46.5%) stained positive with the ZN stain. In viable cases, a significant proportion of microorganisms were positive while necrotic cases showed only rare ZN-positive yeasts. In comparison to PAS and GMS stains, there was a low burden of ZN-positive yeasts. Cryptococcus showed characteristic ZN staining and all cases of Leishmania were negative. Conclusions: Although the morphology of fungal organisms is the foundation of identification, surgical pathologists should be aware of the acid-fast property of fungi, particularly when there is the potential for confusion with other infective organisms.


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JPTM : Journal of Pathology and Translational Medicine