Detection of specific antibodies against Leishmania infantum in canine serum and oral transudate using an in-house ELISA

Marta Baxarias, Júlia Viñals, Alejandra Álvarez-Fernández, Mª Magdalena Alcover, Laia Solano-Gallego*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Canine leishmaniosis caused by the protozoan Leishmania infantum is a complex infection due to its variable clinical signs and laboratory findings. Therefore, a broad range of techniques is available for diagnosis. Testing for specific antibodies in serum is the most commonly used technique, although the testing of other body fluids, such as oral transudate (OT), can be an alternative as its collection is non-invasive and testing can be performed by untrained personnel. The aim of this study was to assess and compare the detection of L. infantum-specific antibodies in paired samples of serum and OT collected from apparently healthy dogs and dogs with clinical leishmaniosis using an in-house enyzme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Methods: Serum and OT were collected from 407 dogs, which varied in breed, sex, age, lifestyle and clinical status, by many practicing veterinarians in Spain. The main geographical areas of sampling included Barcelona (n = 110), Mallorca (n = 94), Cadiz (n = 54) and Asturias (n = 47). The majority of infected dogs were apparently healthy (89.9%) while 41 presented clinical signs and/or clinicopathological abnormalities compatible with L. infantum infection and subsequently diagnosed with leishmaniosis (10.1%). An in-house ELISA was performed to quantify the anti-Leishmania antibodies in serum and OT. Results: The L. infantum infection rate determined by the in-house ELISA was 37.1% in serum samples and 32.7% in OT samples. Serum and OT ELISA results showed a positive correlation (Spearman's correlation coefficient rs = 0.6687, P < 0.0001). The percent agreement between the serum and OT ELISA results was 84%, while agreement according to Cohen's kappa statistic (κ) was substantial (0.66) when all samples were analyzed. The highest percent agreement (92.1%) between both tests was found in dogs from low endemicity regions and from sick dogs, with both groups presenting almost perfect agreement according to Cohen’s κ agreement test (0.84). Few seronegative dogs (n = 23) tested positive by the OT ELISA. The agreement between serum and OT went from almost perfect to moderate when the geographical distribution and clinical status were analyzed. Conclusions: The results of this study demonstrated an almost perfect to moderate agreement between OT and serum samples tested using the in-house ELISA. These results are particularly promising in sick dogs with high antibody levels while the results seem less optimal in apparently healthy dogs with low antibody levels. Graphical Abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
Article number164
Pages (from-to)164
JournalParasites and Vectors
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022


  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Protozoan
  • Dog Diseases
  • Dogs
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay/methods
  • Exudates and Transudates
  • Immunosorbents
  • Leishmania infantum
  • Leishmaniasis, Visceral/diagnosis
  • Leishmaniasis/veterinary


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