Leishmania Antigens

Leishmania is a parasite genus that belongs to the family Trypanosomatidae. It is a genus of trypanosomes that causes the disease leishmaniasis. The genus Leishmania contains dozens of species such as L. amazonensis, L. donovani...etc. The primary hosts of Leishmania are vertebrates, commonly including rodents, canids, hyraxes, and humans. Leishnania species spread through sandflies of the genus Phlebotomus in the Old World, and the genus Lutzomyia in the New World. At least 93 species of Phlebotomus and Lutzomyia have been identified as vectors or potential vectors all around the world. Currently, about 12 million people in 98 countries have been infected by Leishmania, and 2 million new infections were reported per year.

Leishmania Antigens

Fig. 1 Life cycle of Leishmania

Leishmania species are all unicellular eukaryotes with well-defined nucleus as well as other cell organelles such as kinetoplasts and flagella. They can be divided into two structural variants according to the stage of their life cycle: the amastigote form and the promastigote form. Amastigote form is an intracellular and nonmotile form, oval in shape with a Leishmania Antigens Fig. 2 Illustration of the Leishmania parasite in the promastigote form length of 3–6 µm and a breadth of 1–3 µm. It is often found in the mononuclear phagocytes and circulatory systems. The promastigote form, however, is an extracellular and motile form. It is larger and highly elongated (15-30 µm in length and 5 µm in width) with a long flagellum at the anterior end. This form is spindle-shaped, tapering at both ends with the nucleus lies at the centre. This form can be found in the alimentary tract of sandflies.

More than 20 species of Leishmania have been thought to be capable to causing leishmania. This disease has three main presentation forms: cutaneous, mucocutaneous, and visceral leishmaniasis. The main symptom of cutaneous form is skin ulcers, the mucocutaneous form presents with ulcers of the mouth, skin, and nose, while the visceral form starts with skin ulcers and followed by symptoms including fever, low red blood cells, enlarged liver and spleen. All the three forms can be diagnosed through identifying the Leishimania parasites under microscope. The visceral form can also be diagnosed through blood tests.

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