The unknown nature of the antigen in the direct agglutination test for visceral leishmaniasis hampers development of serodiagnostic tests

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Abstract

Current diagnostic tests for visceral leishmaniasis (VL) are either not adapted for use in resource-poor settings or are insufficiently accurate in Eastern Africa. Only the direct agglutination test (DAT), based on whole Leishmania promastigotes, is highly reliable in all endemic regions, but its implementation is hampered by the need for a cold chain, minimal laboratory conditions, and long incubation times. Integrating the DAT antigen(s) in an immunochromatographic rapid diagnostic test (RDT) would overcome these disadvantages. Unfortunately, the identity of the DAT antigen(s) involved in the agglutination reaction is unknown. For this study, we reviewed all publications that might shed some light on this issue. We conclude that the DAT antigen is a mixture of Leishmania-specific epitopes of protein, carbohydrate, and lipid nature. To develop an accurate RDT for VL diagnosis in Eastern Africa, we suggest to complement the classical protein antigen discovery with approaches to identify carbohydrate and lipid epitopes.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Volume2
Issue number100
Pages (from-to)246-255
Number of pages9
ISSN0002-9637
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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