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PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2010 Jan 12;4(1):e581. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0000581.

Detection and identification of old world Leishmania by high resolution melt analysis.

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School of Veterinary Medicine, Hebrew University, Rehovot, Israel.



Three major forms of human disease, cutaneous leishmaniasis, visceral leishmaniasis and mucocutaneous leishmaniasis, are caused by several leishmanial species whose geographic distribution frequently overlaps. These Leishmania species have diverse reservoir hosts, sand fly vectors and transmission patterns. In the Old World, the main parasite species responsible for leishmaniasis are Leishmania infantum, L. donovani, L. tropica, L. aethiopica and L. major. Accurate, rapid and sensitive diagnostic and identification procedures are crucial for the detection of infection and characterization of the causative leishmanial species, in order to provide accurate treatment, precise prognosis and appropriate public health control measures.


High resolution melt analysis of a real time PCR product from the Internal Transcribed Spacer-1 rRNA region was used to identify and quantify Old World Leishmania in 300 samples from human patients, reservoir hosts and sand flies. Different characteristic high resolution melt analysis patterns were exhibited by L. major, L. tropica, L. aethiopica, and L. infantum. Genotyping by high resolution melt analysis was verified by DNA sequencing or restriction fragment length polymorphism. This new assay was able to detect as little as 2-4 ITS1 gene copies in a 5 microl DNA sample, i.e., less than a single parasite per reaction.


This new technique is useful for rapid diagnosis of leishmaniasis and simultaneous identification and quantification of the infecting Leishmania species. It can be used for diagnostic purposes directly from clinical samples, as well as epidemiological studies, reservoir host investigations and vector surveys.

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