Leishmaniasis among organ transplant recipients

Lancet Infect Dis. 2008 Mar;8(3):191-9. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(08)70043-4.


Leishmaniasis is a rarely reported disease among transplant recipients; however, the number of published cases has quadrupled since the beginning of the 1990s. Most cases have been observed in patients living in countries of the Mediterranean basin. Leishmaniasis is most commonly associated with kidney transplantation (77%), and cases are also recorded among patients undergoing liver, heart, lung, pancreas, and bone marrow transplantation. Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is the most frequently observed clinical presentation, followed by mucosal leishmaniasis and more rarely cutaneous leishmaniasis. Transplant recipients with VL develop the classic clinical form of the disease, which is a febrile hepatosplenic and pancytopenic syndrome. Immunodepression seems to predispose to development of mucosal leishmaniasis caused by viscerotropic strains. Early diagnosis of VL is crucial for patient therapy and outcome; however, this is frequently overlooked or delayed in transplant patients. Pentavalent antimonials are the most commom form of treatment for VL, but have a high incidence of toxicity (34%). Although used in fewer patients, liposomal amphotericin B seems to be better tolerated and should be considered as first-line therapy in transplant recipients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Leishmaniasis, Visceral / epidemiology*
  • Leishmaniasis, Visceral / etiology
  • Mediterranean Region / epidemiology
  • Organ Transplantation*