Thirty-eight Leishmania isolates from different host species (humans, mammals, reptiles and sandflies) from various parts of Kenya were compared with six World Health Organization Leishmania reference strains. Isoenzyme variations were assessed on the basis of their electrophoretic profiles on cellulose acetate membranes. Out of 18 enzymes studied, Five were selected for differentiating the Leishmania isolates. These were glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD, E. C. 1. 1. 1. 49), glucose phosphate isomerase (GPI, E. C. 5. 3. 1. 9), malate dehydrogenase (MDH, E. C. 1. 1. 1. 37), mannose phosphate isomerase (MPI, E. C. 5. 3. 1. 8) and phosphoglucomutase (PGM, E. C. 2. 7. 5. 1).
Twenty-one isolates showed enzymatic patterns identical to the Leishmania reference strain Leishmania major IC-236, five isolates were similar to the Leishmania reference strain L. donovani IC-245 and three isolates were identical to the Leishmania reference strain L. aethiopica IC-228.
However, nine Leishmania isolates could not be identified by this method. They are either leishmanial species for which more Leishmania reference strains are needed for comparison or unidentified flagellates species.
The banding patterns revealed by L. major IC-235, isolated from Israel, were different from those of L. major IC-236, isolated from Kenya, with respect to G6PD; GPI; MDH; MPI and PGM.