Background: The prevalence of Leishmania infantum infection in clinically healthy dogs can be several times higher than that of clinical disease in endemic areas. Although treatment is not recommended in dogs with subclinical infection, these animals should be managed to prevent disease progression and parasite transmission to human beings or to other dogs. Dietary nucleotides and active hexose correlated compound (AHCC) have been shown to modulate the immune response. A recent study in dogs with clinical leishmaniosis receiving an initial 28-day course of methylglucamine antimoniate showed that six-month administration of a dietary supplement containing nucleotides plus AHCC achieves similar efficacy to allopurinol. Since the type of immune response plays a key role in the evolution of patients with leishmaniosis, the present study was aimed at evaluating the preventive effect of this supplement in avoiding or delaying disease progression in clinically healthy Leishmania-infected dogs.
Methods: Forty-six dogs were included in this multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Dogs received once-daily oral administration of a placebo or a dietary supplement containing nucleotides plus AHCC. Disease progression was monitored throughout the study in both groups. At 0, 60, 180 and 365 days of treatment, clinical signs were evaluated using a validated clinical scoring system, and several analytes were measured from blood, urine, and bone marrow samples.
Results: During the study, a significantly lower (P = 0.047) proportion of dogs changed their clinical status and became sick in the supplement group (3/20; 15%), compared to the placebo group (10/22; 45.5%). ELISA-determined antibody titers were significantly reduced compared to baseline at all time points with the supplement (P < 0.01), but not with the placebo. The mean clinical score of disease severity was significantly lower in the supplement group after 180 days (P = 0.014). No significant differences were observed for the other parameters. The dietary supplement was well tolerated.
Conclusions: Oral administration of nucleotides plus AHCC for 365 days in clinically healthy L. infantum-infected dogs is safe, allows a significant reduction in anti-Leishmania antibodies, and leads to a lower disease progression rate, hence exerting a preventive effect.
Keywords: AHCC; Canine leishmaniosis; Clinically healthy infected dogs; Dietary nucleotides; Disease control; Disease progression; Leishmania infantum infection.