Potential Biomarkers for Asymptomatic Visceral Leishmaniasis among Iraq-Deployed U.S. Military Personnel

Fernanda Fortes de Araujo*, Ines Lakhal-Naouar, Nancy Koles, Sorana Raiciulescu, Rupal Mody, Naomi Aronson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is a chronic infection caused by Leishmania (L.) donovani or L. infantum parasites. Despite having the infection, most individuals never develop the clinical disease and are able to control the parasite and remain asymptomatic. However, some progress to symptomatic VL, leading to death if untreated. The host immune response has a major role in determining the progression and severity of the clinical manifestations in VL; several immune biomarkers of symptomatic VL have been described with interferon-gamma release as a surrogate biomarker of host cellular immunity. However, new biomarkers to identify asymptomatic VL (AVL) are needed for the identification of people at risk for VL activation. In our study, levels of chemokine/cytokine in the supernatants of peripheral mononuclear blood cells (PBMC) from 35 AVL+ Iraq-deployed participants, stimulated in vitro with soluble Leishmania antigen for 72 h, were assessed by a bead-based assay that allows the measurement of multiple analytes. PBMC of AVL-negative military beneficiaries were used as controls. Monocyte Chemoattractant Protein-1, Monokine Induced by Gamma Interferon and Interleukin-8, were detected at high levels in AVL+ stimulated cultures from Iraq deployers compared to uninfected controls. Measurement of chemokine/cytokine levels can identify cellular immune responses in AVL+ asymptomatic individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Article number705
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • asymptomatic
  • biomarkers
  • visceral leishmaniasis


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