Featured NTD Publication - Human and canine visceral leishmaniasis diagnosis

1 September 2014
Leishmaniasis life cycle image. Courtesy of DPDx Division CDC 2014

Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is a neglected disease and is fatal if untreated. Dogs serve as reservoirs for Leishmania infantum (syn. L. chagasi) due to their susceptibility to infection and high skin parasitism. Therefore, VL control in Brazil involves the elimination of seropositive dogs, among other actions. However, the most frequently used serological tests have limitations regarding sensitivity and specificity.

Evaluation of three recombinant Leishmania infantum antigens in human and canine visceral leishmaniasis diagnosis

Aliani Moura Fonseca, Angélica Rosa Faria, Fernandes Tenório Gomes Rodrigues, Ronaldo Alves Pinto Nagem, Rubens Daniel Miserani Magalhães, João Luís Reis Cunha, Daniella Castanheira Bartholomeu and Hélida Monteiro de Andrade

In this study, the research team selected three Leishmania antigens (C1, C8 and C9) and produced them as recombinant proteins using pET-28a-TEV vector and Escherichia coli BL-21 as expression system. When tested in ELISA with human samples, the C9 antigen was the one showing the most promising results, with 68% sensitivity and 78% specificity. When testing canine samples, the C1, C8 and C9 antigens showed a sensitivity range from 70% to 80% and specificity range from 60% to 90%. The C1 antigen presented higher sensitivity (80%) and the C8 antigen presented higher specificity (90%). Due to it, we decided to mix and test C1 and C8 antigens together, resulting in the C18 antigen. The mix also yielded high percentages of detected symptomatic and asymptomatic dogs however it did not improve the performance of the diagnostic. Comparison of our tests with the tests recommended by the Brazilian Ministry of Health revealed that our antigens’ sensitivities and the percentage of detected asymptomatic dogs were much higher. Our results suggest that the C1, C8, C18 and C9 recombinant proteins are good antigens to diagnose canine visceral leishmaniasis and could potentially be used in screening tests. To diagnose human visceral leishmaniasis, the C9 antigen presented reasonable results, but more optimization must be performed for this antigen to provide better performance.

Read the full article in Acta Tropica