Leishmania spp: completely defined medium without serum and macromolecules (CDM/LP) for the continuous in vitro cultivation of infective promastigote forms

Am J Trop Med Hyg. 1999 Jan;60(1):41-50. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.1999.60.41.


The elimination of serum or of serum-derived macromolecules that supplant the fetal calf serum requirement from Leishmania culture media could decrease costs and improve the feasibility of large-scale production of well-defined parasite material. We report a completely defined medium, without serum-derived protein and/or macromolecules as a serum substitute, of common, available, and inexpensive constituents that can be used in place of serum-supplemented media for the continuous in vitro cultivation of promastigote forms of various Leishmania species. Typical promastigote morphology was observed in Giemsa-stained smears, regardless of the strain analyzed. Electrophoretic analysis showed that the proteinase patterns of aserically grown promastigote forms were similar to those obtained in serum-supplemented RPMI 1640 medium for all Leishmania studied. Similar antigenic profiles were recognized in immunoblots by sera from hosts with visceral or cutaneous leishmaniasis after growing promastigotes in the two different culture media. For parasites causing both cutaneous and visceral leishmaniasis, the absence of serum and macromolecules in the culture medium did not markedly change their in vitro infectivity for resident mouse macrophages and their virulence in animals compared with parasites cultivated in nondefined medium. Serum-free technology will be increasingly important in providing stability and reproducibility as research using promastigote moves closer to therapeutic applications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Culture Media, Serum-Free*
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Endopeptidases / metabolism
  • Female
  • Immunoblotting
  • Kinetics
  • Leishmania / enzymology
  • Leishmania / growth & development*
  • Leishmania / pathogenicity
  • Leishmaniasis, Cutaneous / parasitology
  • Leishmaniasis, Visceral / parasitology
  • Macrophages, Peritoneal / parasitology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Serial Passage
  • Virulence


  • Culture Media, Serum-Free
  • Endopeptidases