Biological Behavior of Leishmania amazonensis Isolated from Humans with Cutaneous, Mucosal, or Visceral Leishmaniasis in Balb/C Mice

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  • Servico de Imunologia, Hospital Universitario Professor Edgard Santos, Universidade Federal da Bahia, Centro de Pesquisa Goncalo Moniz-FIOCRUZ, Bahia, Brazil

Leishmania amazonensis causes a wide spectrum of disease in humans. In this study, we evaluated BALB/c mice infected with five strains of L. amazonensis isolated from patients with either cutaneous, mucosal, or visccral lcishmaniasis. Mice infected with cutaneous and mucosal isolates developed ulcerating footpad lesions with parasite-loaded macrophages and extensive tissue destruction. Skin metastases, early dissemination of parasites to the spleen, and high anti-Leishmania antibody levels were also noted. Mice infected with L. amazonensis strains isolated from patients with visceral disease had a controlled infection, with small footpad lesions with mononuclear cell infiltration, few infected macrophages, and granuloma formation. They had no skin metastases, delayed dissemination of the parasite to the spleen, lower levels of IgG and higher levels of IgG2a against L. amazonensis. These findings demonstrate an unexpected resistance of BALB/c mice to the infection with L. amazonensis isolated from patients with visceral leishmaniasis. This resistance seems to be due to differences in these parasites that may be related to the altered course of the disease in humans and in isogenic BALB/c mice.