Detection and quantification of Spirocerca lupi by HRM qPCR in fecal samples from dogs with spirocercosis

Alicia Rojas, Gilad Segev, Alex Markovics, Itamar Aroch, Gad Baneth*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Background: Spirocerca lupi, the dog oesophageal nematode, causes a potentially fatal disease in domestic dogs, and is currently clinically diagnosed by coproscopy and oesophagoscopy. To date, a single molecular method, a semi-nested PCR, targeting the cox1 gene, has been developed to aid in the diagnosis of spirocercosis. The present study describes three novel high-resolution melt (HRM) quantitative PCR (qPCR) assays targeting fragments of the ITS1, 18S and cytb loci of S. lupi. The performance of these molecular assays in feces was compared to fecal flotation and to the previously described cox1 gene semi-nested PCR in 18 fecal samples from dogs with clinical oesophageal spirocercosis diagnosed by oesophagoscopy. Results: The HRM qPCR for ITS1 and 18S were both able to detect 0.2 S. lupi eggs per gram (epg), while the HRM qPCR for the cytb and the semi-nested PCR for the cox1 detected 6 epg and 526 epg, respectively. Spirocerca lupi was detected in 61.1%, 44.4%, 27.8%, 11.1% and 5.6% of the fecal samples of dogs diagnosed with spirocercosis by using the ITS1 and 18S HRM qPCR assays, fecal flotation, cytb HRM qPCR and cox1 semi-nested PCR, respectively. All dogs positive by fecal flotation were also positive by ITS1 and 18S HRM qPCRs. Quantification of S. lupi eggs was successfully achieved in the HRM qPCRs and compared to the fecal flotation with no significant difference in the calculated concentrations between the HRM qPCRs that detected the 18S and ITS1 loci and the fecal flotation. The HRM qPCR for the 18S cross-amplified DNA from Toxocara canis and Toxascaris leonina. In contrast, the HRM qPCR for ITS1 did not cross-amplify DNA from other canine gastrointestinal parasites. Conclusions: This study presents two new molecular assays with significantly increased sensitivity for confirming and quantifying fecal S. lupi eggs. Of these, the HRM qPCR for ITS1 showed the best performance in terms of the limit of detection and absence of cross-amplification with other parasites. These assays will be useful in detecting infection and for follow-up during therapy.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number435
JournalParasites and Vectors
Issue number1
StatePublished - 19 Sep 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The Author(s).


  • 18S
  • Canine
  • Coproscopy
  • Cytb
  • ITS1
  • PCR
  • Spirocerca lupi
  • Spirocercosis


Dive into the research topics of 'Detection and quantification of Spirocerca lupi by HRM qPCR in fecal samples from dogs with spirocercosis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this