A randomised, blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trial with allopurinol in canine leishmaniosis

Vet Parasitol. 2001 Jul 27;98(4):247-61. doi: 10.1016/s0304-4017(01)00399-5.


A total of 45 non-uremic dogs, with clinical signs indicating leishmaniosis, entered the study. Diagnosis was confirmed by indirect immunofluorescence assay (IFA) on serum and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) on bone marrow samples. The dogs were randomly allocated into Group A (n=37) that received allopurinol (10mg/kg B.W., per os, twice daily) for 4 consecutive months, and Group B (n=8) that were placebo-treated. Clinical signs were scored just before and at monthly intervals throughout the study period, in a blinded and independent fashion. Complete blood count, serum biochemistry profile, urinalysis, lymph node and bone marrow parasitology, IFA and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) serology and bone marrow PCR were carried out at the beginning and at the end of the trial. A total of three Group A and one Group B dogs died of end stage kidney disease that developed during the trial. In Group A animals that endured the trial there was a significant improvement in the general body condition, conjunctivitis, peripheral lymphadenopathy, splenomegaly, masticatory muscle atrophy, ulcerative stomatitis, epistaxis, exfoliative dermatitis, cutaneous ulcerations, blepharitis and nasodigital hyperkeratosis. The same observation was made for anemia, lymphopenia, hyperproteinemia, hyperglobulinemia, hyperphosphatemia, increased alkaline phosphatase activity and the low albumin/globulin ratio. By contrast, no improvement of any kind was seen in Group B dogs. Lymph node and bone marrow parasite numbers were significantly decreased in Group A animals. In Group B, that occurred only in the lymph nodes. Apart from remission of clinical signs and restoration to normal of clinicopathological abnormalities, allopurinol did not eliminate Leishmania organisms, as the PCR result on bone marrow was still positive in all the dogs that finished the trial.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Allopurinol / therapeutic use*
  • Animals
  • Antimetabolites / therapeutic use*
  • Dog Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Dogs
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay / veterinary
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Indirect / veterinary
  • Leishmaniasis / drug therapy
  • Leishmaniasis / veterinary*
  • Male
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / veterinary


  • Antimetabolites
  • Allopurinol