Current diagnosis and treatment of visceral leishmaniasis

Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther. 2010 Aug;8(8):919-44. doi: 10.1586/eri.10.78.


Human visceral leishmaniasis (VL), a potentially fatal disease, is most prevalent in the Indian subcontinent, East Africa and South America. Definite diagnosis and effective treatment are the primary needs for the control of VL. Diagnosis of VL has typically relied on microscopic examination of bone marrow/splenic aspirate, but serology and molecular methods are now better alternatives. The conventional drugs for treatment of VL have limitations including unresponsiveness, relapse, specific toxicities and parenteral administration lasting for long durations. Moreover, they are less effective in HIV-VL-coinfected patients. Registration of miltefosine and paromomycin, and preferential pricing of AmBisome has offered more choices for monotherapy and combination therapy for VL. Combination therapy will increase treatment efficacy and prevent the development of resistance. In addition, active case finding and vector control strategies will also have a positive impact in the control of VL. This article critically addresses the currently available diagnostic and treatment regimens for the control of VL.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amphotericin B / therapeutic use*
  • Animals
  • Antigens, Protozoan* / genetics
  • Antigens, Protozoan* / immunology
  • Antiprotozoal Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Humans
  • Leishmaniasis, Visceral / diagnosis*
  • Leishmaniasis, Visceral / drug therapy*
  • Leishmaniasis, Visceral / parasitology
  • Phosphorylcholine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Phosphorylcholine / therapeutic use
  • Protozoan Proteins* / genetics
  • Protozoan Proteins* / immunology
  • Recombinant Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Proteins / immunology


  • Antigens, Protozoan
  • Antiprotozoal Agents
  • Protozoan Proteins
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • liposomal amphotericin B
  • Phosphorylcholine
  • miltefosine
  • Amphotericin B
  • K39 antigen, Leishmania