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Future Microbiol. 2014;9(7):901-15. doi: 10.2217/fmb.14.43.

Immunity to visceral leishmaniasis: implications for immunotherapy.

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Department of Immunology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.


Visceral leishmaniasis, caused by Leishmania donovani, L. infantum (syn. Leishmania chagasi), is a globally widespread disease with a burden of about 400,000 new infections reported annually. It is the most dangerous form of human leishmaniasis in terms of mortality and morbidity and is spreading to several nonendemic areas because of migration, global traveling and military conflicts. The emergence of Leishmania-HIV co-infection and increased prevalence of drug-resistant strains have worsened the impact of the disease. The traditional low-cost drugs are often toxic with several adverse effects, highlighting the need for development of new therapeutic and prophylactic strategies. Therefore, a detailed understanding of mechanisms of protective immunity is extremely important in order to develop new therapeutics in the form of vaccines or immunotherapies. This review gives an overview of visceral leishmaniasis, with particular emphasis on the innate and adaptive immune responses, vaccine and vaccination strategies and their potentials for immunotherapy against the disease.


adaptive immunity; chemotherapy; immunotherapy; innate immunity; leishmaniasis; vaccines; visceral leishmaniasis

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