Effect of the Preservative and Temperature Conditions on the Stability of Leishmania Infantum Promastigotes Antigens Applied in a Flow Cytometry Diagnostic Method for Canine Visceral Leishmaniasis

Diagn Microbiol Infect Dis. 2013 Aug;76(4):470-6. doi: 10.1016/j.diagmicrobio.2013.04.007. Epub 2013 May 29.


The control of canine visceral leishmaniasis (CVL) is imperative, but euthanasia of seropositive dogs has been highly criticized. Commonly used, immunodiagnostic tests, including Dual-Path Platform®, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, and immunofluorescent antibody test, have failed at detecting asymptomatic dogs in endemic areas. In this context, new serological methods are needed. Flow cytometry serology has demonstrated potential as a test with excellent performance for CVL. In this study, we proposed to establish the best conditions for preserving Leishmania infantum promastigote antigens employed in this serology test. During 12 months of follow-up, promastigotes were maintained in different preservatives (phosphate-buffered saline with 3% fetal bovine serum, phenol 0.35%, thimerosal 0.01%, and formaldehyde 0.5%) and stored at 3 distinct temperatures (25 °C, 4 °C, and -20 °C). During the study period, the morphological characteristics of the promastigotes were assessed by flow cytometry according to the forward and side scatter parameters and also under optical microscopic analysis. Reactivity performance was evaluated as the percentage of positive fluorescent parasites in the sera of naturally infected and noninfected dogs. Microbiological analysis was performed at 2 time points, the first and sixth months, to rule out contamination of stored promastigotes. Taken together, our results indicated that the best conditions to preserve fixed L. infantum antigens were storage in formaldehyde at 4 °C. Promastigotes presented the best morphological profile, with appropriate antigenic stability even at 4 °C, in an inexpensive preservative for a long period of conservation.

Keywords: Canine visceral leishmaniasis; Diagnosis; ELISA; FC-AFPA-IgG; Flow cytometry; IFAT.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Protozoan / chemistry
  • Antibodies, Protozoan / immunology
  • Antigens, Protozoan / analysis*
  • Antigens, Protozoan / chemistry
  • Antigens, Protozoan / immunology
  • Dog Diseases / blood
  • Dog Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Dog Diseases / immunology
  • Dog Diseases / parasitology
  • Dogs
  • Flow Cytometry / veterinary
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Indirect
  • Formaldehyde / chemistry
  • Immunoglobulin G / chemistry
  • Immunoglobulin G / immunology
  • Leishmania infantum / immunology
  • Leishmania infantum / isolation & purification*
  • Leishmaniasis, Visceral / blood
  • Leishmaniasis, Visceral / diagnosis*
  • Leishmaniasis, Visceral / immunology
  • Leishmaniasis, Visceral / veterinary*
  • Life Cycle Stages
  • Preservatives, Pharmaceutical / chemistry
  • Protein Stability
  • Temperature


  • Antibodies, Protozoan
  • Antigens, Protozoan
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Preservatives, Pharmaceutical
  • Formaldehyde