BACKGROUND: Kinesin-related gene diversity among strains and species of Leishmania may impact the sensitivity and specificity of serodiagnostic tests for visceral leishmaniasis (VL).
METHODS: In this study, we report on the recombinant expression of this novel Iranian Leishmania infantum (MCAN14/47) homologue of rK39 (Li-rK39), in L. tarentolae. The diagnostic potential of the Li-rK39 antigen was evaluated in an ELISA, using sera from 100 VL patients, 190 healthy endemic controls, 46 non-endemic healthy controls and 47 patients with other infections.
RESULTS: The results showed a sensitivity of 96% and a specificity of 93.8%. A commercial rK39 immunochromatographic test (ICT) was 90% sensitive and 100% specific on the same cohort.
CONCLUSIONS: Here, we show that the K39 gene from an Iranian L. infantum isolate is heterozygous as compared to the sequence of the Brazilian L. infantum (former L. chagasi), whose antigen is incorporated in most rK39-based immunochromatographic tests. Therefore, Li-rK39 has the potential to be used as an alternative for VL diagnosis in Iran.