Volume 59, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645


Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is characterized by a depression of the T helper cell type 1 immune response. Although mRNA expression for interleukin-4 (IL-4) is observed, evidence of the role of this cytokine in the pathogenesis of VL has been lacking. Since IL-4 is involved in IgE synthesis, we measured the total IgE and Leishmania antigen-specific IgE antibody levels in sera from patients with VL. Specific IgE antibodies detected by an ELISA technique after absorbing the sera with purified sheep IgG anti-human IgG were found in all 23 patients with VL and were not detected in subjects with subclinical Leishmania chagasi infection (n = 10), Chagas' disease (n = 10), atopic patients (n = 10), and healthy controls (n = 10). Levels of Leishmania-specific IgE (optical density values) before and after treatment were 0.100 +/- 0.03 (mean +/- SD) and 0.028 +/- 0.002, respectively (P < 0.05). These results indicate that a specific IgE response is useful in the diagnosis of active disease and to evaluate response to treatment.


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