Leishmaniasis is a complex vector-borne disease caused by various Leishmania species, affecting humans and animals. Current diagnostic methods have limitations, leading to potential misdiagnosis. Therefore, there is an urgent need for specific and sensitive diagnostic tools. We evaluated the sensitivity of a quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) assay targeting the 18S gene in diverse clinical sample matrices. The assay showed a wide dynamic range and a limit of detection (LoD) of 1 parasite equivalent per milliliter (eq-p/mL) for all tested species. It exhibited high specificity for Leishmania DNA, with no amplification against other microorganisms. When applied to samples from patients with visceral and cutaneous leishmaniasis, the qPCR assay provided results that matched the reference methods and allowed estimation of parasite burdens. This assay holds promise for diagnosing and monitoring leishmaniasis by offering high sensitivity, specificity, and the ability to estimate parasitemia. Further studies are needed to enhance Leishmania molecular diagnostics and expand their coverage for improved clinical impact.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
- Clinical Biochemistry