Leishmania infantum infection has recently been described in horses in Europe. We report the results of a study on the immune response to L. infantum in horses living in an area endemic for leishmaniosis in NE Spain. Two ELISAs using protein A and anti-horse IgG conjugates were adapted to measure specific antibodies to L. infantum in horse sera. A lymphocyte proliferation assay (LPA) of peripheral blood mononuclear cells to L. infantum antigen was also performed to detect specific cellular immune response to Leishmania. Anti-L. infantum antibodies were detected in the serum of 16 of the horses studied (n = 112) using the protein A assay but not in the assay using the anti-horse IgG conjugate. Specific lymphocyte proliferation was observed in 20 out of 55 horses. This study shows that horses in the area studied mount specific immune responses to L. infantum, and must therefore be considered among the species exposed to the parasite in this region. The infrequency of leishmaniosis in horses suggests that the immune response in this species is effective in controlling the infection. © 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
- Immune response
- Leishmania infantum
- Lymphocyte proliferation assay