Characterization and Classification of Leishmanial Parasites from Humans, Wild Mammals, and Sand Flies in the Amazon Region of Brazil

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  • Departments of Immunology and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, Rio de Janeiro, Division of Parasitology, Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazonia, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Yale University School of Medicine, Manaus, Brazil

Ninety-four leishmanial isolates from the Brazilian Amazon Region (Amapá, Amazonas, Pará, and Rondônia) were identified and classified using specific monoclonal antibodies and an indirect radioimmunoassay (serodeme analysis); eighty-two were also characterized by enzyme electrophoresis (zymodeme analysis), the results of which were subjected to a numerical phenetic analysis. Six isolates from humans (3), Didelphis marsupialis (1), Lutzomyia olmeca nociva (1), and Lu. reducta (1) showed reactivity patterns and isoenzyme profiles similar to those obtained with the Leishmania amazonensis reference strains, and were identified as this species. Eighty-six stocks were classified as members of the L. braziliensis complex; of these, 61 were L. guyanensis or variants, which presented three serodeme subtypes, but whose isoenzyme profiles were all similar to the reference strain. A total of 15 isolates were distinguished as L. braziliensis or variants and were classified into five serodeme subtypes. The isolate from Psychodopugus davisi appeared, from the numerical analysis, to be a distinct parasite species. Ten isolates showed reactivity patterns and isoenzyme profiles similar to those obtained with the L. naiffi reference strain. A parasite isolated from Ps. claustrei appeared to be different from all reference strains by both techniques, and was classified as probably being a new species. The importance of these results with respect to the taxonomic status of the New World Leishmania, and their implications for both clinical and epidemiologic data are discussed.