Volume 46, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



Active visceral leishmaniasis is associated with antigen-specific immunosuppression. However, cured patients develop a cellular immune response associated with resistance to reinfection. Recent studies have identified patients with asymptomatic or subclinical infections, which are also accompanied by an immune response. In order to identify subjects immune to , we performed a skin-test survey in an endemic area in eastern Venezuela. The delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) response was assessed in patients cured of visceral leishmaniasis, as well as in their relatives and neighbors. Of the latter, 36 (34.2%) of 105 were positive and 26 (24.7%) of 105 gave intermediate responses. The DTH reaction correlated with age. The antigens recognized by a subgroup of cured patients, those with positive skin-test results, and controls (skin-test negative) were assessed by Western blotting with sera, and T cell immunoblotting with peripheral blood mononuclear cells. No consistent differences between the groups were noted in Western blots with antigens. T cell blots were performed on five patients from each group. For the cured patients and skin-test positive contacts, a significant proliferative response to fraction 12 (< 20.5 kDa) was noted in four of five patients in each group. Cells from three of five cured patients and two of five skin-test-positive patients proliferated in response to fraction 4 (73–115 kDa). The response to other fractions was variable, with only a minority of patients responding to any one fraction. These data suggest that the antigens recognized by patients with evidence of immunity to are quite variable. However, response to antigens in fraction 12 (≤ 20.5 kDa) was noted in most patients, and could be of significance in protective immunity.


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