Thermosensitivity Patterns of Old vs. New World Cutaneous Strains of Leishmania Growing within Mouse Peritoneal Macrophages in Vitro

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  • Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases, National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20205

Infection of mouse peritoneal macrophages in vitro was used to examine the effect of elevated temperature on the intracellular replication of various strains of Leishmania. Of eight cutaneous strains examined, all grew optimally at 35°C. At 37°C the reduction in growth was most pronounced for the New World cutaneous strains, and at 39°C three of four New World cutaneous strains were completely destroyed whereas all of the L. tropica strains survived and exhibited at least 100% growth after 3 days. The results of these in vitro studies correlate closely with the outcome of heat therapy on two patients with cutaneous disease, suggesting that, in general, cutaneous lesions due to L. tropica strains might be less responsive to heat therapy than lesions due to L. mexicana and related strains.