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Evaluation of an in vitro and in vivo model for experimental infection with Leishmania (Viannia) braziliensis and L. (V.) peruviana

  • D. GAMBOA (a1) (a2), K. TORRES (a1), S. DE DONCKER (a2), M. ZIMIC (a3), J. AREVALO (a1) (a3) and J.-C. DUJARDIN (a2)...


Leishmania (Viannia) braziliensis and L. (V.) peruviana are two parasite species characterized by a very different pathogenicity in humans despite a high genetic similarity. We hypothesized previously that L. (V.) peruviana would descend from L. (V.) braziliensis and would have acquired its ‘peruviana’ character during the southward colonization and adaptation of the transmission cycle in the Peruvian Andes. In order to have a first appreciation of the differences in virulence between both species, we evaluated an in vitro and in vivo model for experimental infection. A procedure was adapted to enrich culture forms in infective stages and the purified metacyclics were used to infect macrophage cell lines and golden hamsters. The models were tested with 2 representative strains of L. (V.) braziliensis from cutaneous and mucosal origin respectively and 2 representative strains of L. (V.) peruviana from Northern and Southern Peru respectively. Our models were reproducible and sensitive enough to detect phenotypic differences among strains. We showed in vitro as well as in vivo that the L. (V.) braziliensis was more infective than L. (V.) peruviana. Furthermore, we found that in vitro infectivity patterns of the 4 strains analysed, were in agreement with the geographical structuring of parasite populations demonstrated in our previous studies. Further work is needed to confirm our results with more strains of different geographical origin and their specific clinical outcome. However, our data open new perspectives for understanding the process of speciation in Leishmania and its implications in terms of pathogenicity.


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*Corresponding author: Unit of Molecular Parasitology, Intituut voor Tropische Geneeskunde, 155 Nationalestraat, B-2000 Antwerpen, Belgium. Tel: +32 3 2476358. Fax: +32 3 2476359. E-mail:


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Evaluation of an in vitro and in vivo model for experimental infection with Leishmania (Viannia) braziliensis and L. (V.) peruviana

  • D. GAMBOA (a1) (a2), K. TORRES (a1), S. DE DONCKER (a2), M. ZIMIC (a3), J. AREVALO (a1) (a3) and J.-C. DUJARDIN (a2)...


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