Noninvasive Diagnosis of Visceral Leishmaniasis: Development and Evaluation of Two Urine-Based Immunoassays for Detection of Leishmania donovani Infection in India

Citation: Ejazi SA, Bhattacharya P, Bakhteyar MAK, Mumtaz AA, Pandey K, Das VNR, et al. (2016) Noninvasive Diagnosis of Visceral Leishmaniasis: Development and Evaluation of Two Urine-Based Immunoassays for Detection of Leishmania donovani Infection in India. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 10(10): e0005035. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0005035
Published: October 14, 2016

Background: Visceral Leishmaniasis (VL), a severe parasitic disease, could be fatal if diagnosis and treatment is delayed. Post kala-azar dermal leishmaniasis (PKDL), a skin related outcome, is a potential reservoir for the spread of VL. Diagnostic tests available for VL such as tissue aspiration are invasive and painful although they are capable of evaluating the treatment response. Serological tests although less invasive than tissue aspiration are incompetent to assess cure. Parasitological examination of slit-skin smear along with the clinical symptoms is routinely used for diagnosis of PKDL. Therefore, a noninvasive test with acceptable sensitivity and competency, additionally, to decide cure would be an asset in disease management and control.
Methodology/principal findings: We describe here, the development of antibody-capture ELISA and field adaptable dipstick test as noninvasive diagnostic tools for VL and PKDL and as a test of cure in VL treatment. Sensitivity and specificity of urine-ELISA were 97.94% (95/97) and 100% (75/75) respectively, for VL. Importantly, dipstick test demonstrated 100% sensitivity (97/97) and specificity (75/75) in VL diagnosis. Degree of agreement of the two methods with tissue aspiration was 98.83% (κ = 0.97) and 100% (κ = 1), for ELISA and dipstick test, respectively. Both the tests had 100% positivity for PKDL (14/14) cases. ELISA and dipstick test illustrated treatment efficacy in about 90% (16/18) VL cases when eventually turned negative after six months of treatment.
Conclusions/significance: ELISA and dipstick test found immensely effective for diagnosis of VL and PKDL through urine samples thus, may substitute the existing invasive diagnostics. Utility of these tests as indirect methods of monitoring parasite clearance can define infected versus cured. Urine-based dipstick test is simple, sensitive and above all noninvasive method that may help not only in active VL case detection but also to ascertain treatment response. It can therefore, be deployed widely for interventions in disease management of VL particularly in poor resource outskirts.

Author Summary: Visceral leishmaniasis (VL), one of the most prevalent parasitic diseases in the developing world causes serious health concerns. Post kala-azar dermal leishmaniasis (PKDL) is a skin disease which occurs after treatment as a sequel to VL. Parasitological diagnosis involves invasive tissue aspiration which is tedious and painful. Commercially available immunochromatographic rapid diagnostic test such as rK39-RDT is used for field diagnosis of VL, detects antibodies in serum samples. Urine sample is however, much easier in collection, storage and handling than serum and would be a better alternative where collection of tissue aspirate or blood is impractical. In this study, we have developed and evaluated the performance of two urine-based diagnostic assays, ELISA and dipstick test, and compared the results with serological rK39-RDT. Our study shows the capability of urine-based tests in detecting anti-Leishmania antibodies effectively for both VL and PKDL diagnosis. The ability of dipstick test to demonstrate negative results after six months in 90% of the VL cases after treatment could be useful as a test of clinical cure. Urine-based tests can therefore replace the need for invasive practices and ensure better diagnosis under filed settings.


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