• Visceral leishmaniasis;
  • tegumentary leishmaniasis;
  • dogs;
  • cross-reactive Antigens;
  • immunoblotting


The Leishmania species present a genetic homology that ranges from 69 to 90%. Because of this homology, heterologous antigens have been used in the immunodiagnosis and vaccine development against Leishmania infections. In the current work, we describe the identification of species-specific and cross-reactive antigens among several New World Leishmania species, using symptomatic and asymptomatic naturally Leishmania chagasi-infected dog sera. Soluble antigens from five strains of New World Leishmania were separated by electrophoresis in SDS-PAGE and immunoblotted. Different proteins were uniquely recognized in the L. chagasi panel by either symptomatic or asymptomatic dog sera suggesting their use as markers for the progression of disease and diagnosis of the initial (sub-clinical) phase of the infection. Cross-reactive antigens were identified using heterologous antigenic panels (L. amazonensis strains PH8 and BH6, L. guyanensis and L. braziliensis). L. guyanensis panel showed the highest cross-reactivity against L. chagasi specific antibodies, suggesting that proteins from this extract might be suitable for the diagnosis of visceral canine leishmaniasis. Interestingly, the 51 and 97 kDa proteins of Leishmania were widely recognized (77.8% to 100%) among all antigenic panels tested, supporting their potential use for immunodiagnosis. Finally, we identified several leishmanial antigens that might be useful for routine diagnosis and seroepidemiological studies of the visceral canine leishmaniasis.