Multiple-locus variable-number tandem repeat analysis and clinical characterization of Leptospira interrogans canine isolates

J Med Microbiol. 2015 Mar;64(Pt 3):288-294. doi: 10.1099/jmm.0.000027. Epub 2015 Jan 16.


Canine leptospirosis occurs worldwide; however, information on the relationship between Leptospira serotypes/genotypes and virulence in dogs remains limited. We investigated the molecular characteristics of Leptospira interrogans canine isolates belonging to three serogroups using multiple-locus variable-number tandem repeat analysis (MLVA) and the effects of each serotype/genotype on the clinical characteristics of leptospirosis in dogs. MLVA using 11 loci of the three major L. interrogans serogroups in Japan, Australis (32 strains from 21 dogs), Autumnalis (12; 7) and Hebdomadis (66; 39), revealed more divergent genetic heterogeneity within each serogroup than multilocus sequence typing (MLST), and they formed two, three and five clusters (CLs), respectively. Lethal infections were caused by all Leptospira serogroup isolates (70.3 % with Hebdomadis, 83.3 % with Australis and 100 % with Autumnalis) or Leptospira isolates belonging to all the CLs (57.1-100 %) without any significant differences. A significant difference in hyperaemia and haemorrhage of mucus membrane was observed between serogroups Australis and Autumnalis (P = 0.03). Leptospira isolates of Australis CL2 caused no hyperaemia and haemorrhage from mucus membrane, whereas those of Australis CL1, Autumnalis CL3 and Hebdomadis CL1 and CL3 did (P<0.05). Significant differences in creatinine (Cre) levels were observed between serogroups Australis and Hebdomadis (P = 0.02). In addition, significant differences in blood urea nitrogen levels were observed between serogroups Australis and Hebdomadis (P = 0.004) and Australis and Autumnalis (P = 0.02). Based on MLVA types, a significant difference in Cre levels was observed between Hebdomadis CL1 and CL4 (P = 0.0018). Our results indicated that MLVA had a higher discriminatory power and was more concordant with serotyping than MLST. Although all Leptospira serotypes and genotypes caused lethal infections in dogs, the L. interrogans serogroup Australis strains were more likely to cause severe kidney damage than Autumnalis and Hebdomadis, which may be more critical to the outcome of infected dogs than haemorrhage. Our results also suggest that the virulence mechanisms and target organs in dogs may differ by Leptospira genotype.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Animals
  • Bacterial Typing Techniques / veterinary
  • Cluster Analysis
  • DNA, Bacterial / blood
  • Dog Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Dog Diseases / microbiology
  • Dog Diseases / mortality
  • Dogs
  • Female
  • Genetic Loci / genetics
  • Genotype
  • Japan
  • Leptospira interrogans / classification
  • Leptospira interrogans / genetics
  • Leptospira interrogans / isolation & purification*
  • Leptospira interrogans / pathogenicity
  • Leptospirosis / diagnosis
  • Leptospirosis / microbiology
  • Leptospirosis / mortality
  • Leptospirosis / veterinary*
  • Male
  • Minisatellite Repeats / genetics*
  • Multilocus Sequence Typing / veterinary*
  • Serotyping / veterinary
  • Virulence


  • DNA, Bacterial