Leukoreduction as a control measure in transfusion transmission of visceral leishmaniasis

Transfusion. 2023 May;63(5):1044-1049. doi: 10.1111/trf.17308. Epub 2023 Mar 17.


Background: Asymptomatic visceral leishmaniasis (VL) infection is a risk for transfusion safety. Leukoreduction has been an alternative for the prevention of some blood-borne diseases, including VL. This study aimed to evaluate the role of leukoreduction of cellular blood components as a control measure for transfusional VL transmission.

Research design and methods: A total of 161 polytransfused patients with non-leukoreduced blood components (HNL), 95 polytransfused with leukoreduced blood components (LH), and 202 non-transfused (NT) from endemic regions for VL and with a similar epidemiological profile. The detection of antibodies against VL was performed by ELISA and the presence of the parasite was investigated by real-time PCR. Statistical significance was defined as p < .05.

Results: When comparing three groups, ELISA results were statistically significant (p = .0065). The residual analysis of ELISA showed statistically significant for the HNL group compared to the general group (p = .002; OR: 5.6; CI: 1.7-25.8), demonstrating that individuals who received non-leukoreduced transfusions are five times more likely to acquire Leishmania infantum infection than the general.

Discussion: Higher prevalence in the group with HNL and low prevalence in those who received LH, similar to NT patients, highlight the risk of transfusional VL transmission and reinforce the role of leukoreduction in its prevention.

Keywords: asymptomatic infection; blood transfusion; leishmania infantum; leishmaniasis visceral; leukodepletion filter.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies
  • Asymptomatic Infections
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Humans
  • Leishmania infantum*
  • Leishmaniasis, Visceral* / epidemiology
  • Leishmaniasis, Visceral* / prevention & control
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • Antibodies