Direct identification of **Leishmania** species in biopsies from patients with American tegumentary leishmaniasis
Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences . Biomedical Sciences
Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
, p. 80-87
Accurate identification of Leishmania species is important for monitoring clinical outcome, adequately targeting treatment, and evaluation of epidemiological risk in tegumentary leishmaniasis. This is especially the case in regions where several species coexist and for travel medicine where the geographical source of infection is not always obvious. Species identification presently depends on parasite isolation, which is not very sensitive and not necessarily representative of parasites actually present in human tissues. We evaluated a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay combining amplification of the gp63 genes and restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis (gp63 PCR-RFLP) for direct Leishmania species-identification in tissues collected from Peruvian patients in 1999. By comparison with a kinetoplast DNA-based PCR, our PCR assay showed a detection sensitivity of 85%. Three species were engountered among patient samples, Leishmania (Viannia) braziliensis, L. (V.) peruviana and L. (V.) guyanensis, and their frequency and geographical distribution corresponded to earlier epidemiological studies of leishmaniasis in Peru. However, unexpected results raised questions about (i) the contribution of human migration to the emergence of new foci of given species, (ii) the pathogenicity of some species, and (iii) the frequency of mixed or hybrid infections.