The relationship of the progression and regression of cutaneous lesions of 6 owl monkeys (Aotus trivirgatus) to the responses of their peripheral blood leukocytes (PBL) in vitro to mitogens and to leishmanial antigens, as well as their delayed skin test responses (DTH) in vivo to leishmanin antigen, were studied after primary and challenge infections with Leishmania braziliensis panamensis (WR 128 or WR 539). All 6 infected monkeys developed primary and satellite cutaneous leishmanial lesions which were measured for up to 30 weeks in 3 of the monkeys and up to 52 weeks in the other 3 monkeys. Two owl monkeys which had recovered from cutaneous leishmaniasis demonstrated acquired resistance when challenged with an intradermal inoculation of L. b. panamensis (WR 128).
Reactivity of PBL from infected owl monkeys to PHA, Con A, and PWM was similar during primary and challenge infections to that observed prior to infection. Reactivity to leishmanial antigens was detected at 20 to 28 weeks post-infection (PI), became statistically significant after 28 weeks and remained elevated up to 52 weeks PI and after challenge infections. During primary infections DTH responses to leishmanin antigen were detected as early as 8 weeks PI, and continued up to 27 weeks PI. After challenge infections DTH reactivity was positive at 25 and 37 weeks, the only times the response was evaluated. The immunological responses of owl monkeys to L. b. panamensis were similar in many respects to those observed in humans with localized cutaneous leishmaniasis. This nonhuman primate model should be useful for future studies involving the immunology and chemotherapy of cutaneous leishmaniasis.