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Acta Trop. 2008 May;106(2):132-6. doi: 10.1016/j.actatropica.2008.02.006. Epub 2008 Feb 29.

Isoenzymatic variability of Leishmania infantum in Tunisia concerning 254 human strains.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Parasitologie, Hôpital La Rabta, 1007 Tunis, Tunisia.


The different clinical forms of leishmaniasis are the result of both the immunological status of individuals and the species of the parasite causing the infection. In Mediterranean countries, the Leishmania infantum complex groups zymodemes which are responsible for visceral, cutaneous and exceptionally cutaneomucosal or mucosal leishmaniasis. We report in this study a synthesis concerning 254 cases of L. infantum that have been characterized at the "Laboratoire de Parasitologie" of the Rabta Hospital. The strains were isolated from human cases of visceral leishmaniasis (VL) and cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) by culture on NNN medium: 156 VL cases and 98 CL cases. The isoenzymatic characterization revealed three zymodemes of L. infantum. * L. infantum MON 1, a common zymodeme of VL,occurred in 154 cases (61%): 147 VL (95%) and 7 CL (5%). All CL cases were from the northern provinces, six of them occurring during an epidemic disease in 2001. * L. infantum MON 24, a common zymodeme of CL in the north, occurred in 98 cases (38.5%): 91 CL (93%) and 7 VL (7%). The seven VL cases were immunocompetent children aged from 8 months to 9 years and native of northern Tunisia. Two of the CL cases were from central regions of the country. This is the first time that cases from these regions are reported. * L. infantum MON 80, an uncommon zymodeme in Tunisia, occurred in two VL cases (0.5%): two children aged 7 and 5. The small number of strains of this zymodeme does not allow understanding of its epidemiological role. The results of this study indicate a low enzymatic variability of L. infantum in the country. However, our study includes only human strains and should be extended to animal ones (dogs, rodents and sand flies). This would lead to a better understanding of the epidemiology of leishmaniasis in Tunisia.

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