Published online by Cambridge University Press: 29 November 2018
The clinical manifestation and course of Leishmania infections depend on factors such as species, virulence and host-immunity. Although trypanosomatids are considered to have clonal propagation, genetic hybridization has produced successful natural hybrid lineages. Hybrids displaying strong selective advantages may have an impact on pathogenesis and the eco-epidemiology of leishmaniasis. Thus, characterization of phenotypic properties of Leishmania hybrids could bring significant insight into the biology, infectivity, pathogenicity and transmission dynamics of these atypical strains. The present study focuses on phenotypic features and survival capacity of Leishmania infantum/Leishmania major hybrid isolates as compared with representative putative parental species, L. infantum and L. major. In vitro assays (growth kinetics, susceptibility to different conditions) and in vivo infection (parasite detection and histopathological alterations) showed that hybrids present higher growth capacity and decreased susceptibility to reactive oxygen species. Furthermore, evaluation of infected spleen tissue suggests that hybrids induce a stronger immune reaction than their putative parents, leading to the development of white pulp hyperplasia in B-lymphocyte compartments. Overall, these hybrids have shown high plasticity in terms of their general behaviour within the different phenotypic parameters, suggesting that they might have acquired genetic features conferring different mechanisms to evade host cells.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Present address: Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, OX1 3RE, Oxford, UK