High prevalence of asymptomatic Leishmania spp. infection among liver transplant recipients and donors from an endemic area of Brazil

Am J Transplant. 2014 Jan;14(1):96-101. doi: 10.1111/ajt.12521.


Visceral leishmaniasis is an uncommon disease in transplant recipients; however, if left untreated, the mortality can be high. If an organ donor or recipient is known to be an asymptomatic Leishmania spp. carrier,monitoring is advised. This study proposes to assess the prevalence of asymptomatic Leishmania spp.infection in liver transplant donors and recipients from an endemic area. A total of 50 liver recipients and 17 liver donors were evaluated by direct parasite search, indirect fluorescent antibody test (IFAT), anti-Leishmania rK39 rapid test and Leishmania spp.DNA detection by polymerase chain reaction (PCR).Leishmania spp. amastigotes were not observed in liver or spleen tissues. Of the 67 serum samples, IFAT was reactive in 1.5% and indeterminate for 17.9%, and the anti-Leishmania rK39 rapid test was negative for all samples. The PCR test was positive for 7.5%, 8.9%, and 5.9% of blood, liver and spleen samples, respectively(accounting for 23.5% of the donors and 8% of the recipients). Leishmania infantum-specific PCR confirmed all positive samples. In conclusion, a high prevalence of asymptomatic L. infantum was observed in donors and recipients from an endemic area, and PCR was the most sensitive method for screening these individuals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brazil / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • DNA, Protozoan / analysis
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Humans
  • Leishmania / genetics
  • Leishmania infantum / immunology
  • Leishmaniasis, Visceral / diagnosis
  • Leishmaniasis, Visceral / epidemiology*
  • Liver Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Tissue Donors


  • DNA, Protozoan