© 2016 The Author(s). Background: There is limited information available on cytokine profiles in dogs with different degrees of disease severity due to natural infection of Leishmania infantum. The aim of this study was to investigate L. infantum-specific IFN-γ and IL-10 production in blood from dogs with leishmaniosis at diagnosis and correlate these findings with disease severity, humoral immune response and blood parasitemia. Methods: Sixty dogs were diagnosed based on physical examination, routine laboratory tests, L. infantum-specific antibody levels measured by quantitative ELISA and blood parasitemia by real-time PCR. Heparin whole blood was stimulated with L. infantum soluble antigen (LSA) and concanavalin A (ConA) and incubated for 5 days. IFN-γ and IL-10 concentrations were measured in supernatants with sandwich ELISAs. Results: The majority of dogs (n = 36) were classified as LeishVet stage II (moderate disease). The rest of the dogs were classified as stage I (n = 10), III (n = 10) and IV (n = 4). Dogs classified with stage I and IIa presented significantly higher (P = 0.02) LSA IFN-γ concentrations, lower (P <0.0001) antibody levels and a tendency for lower blood parasitemia (P = 0.1) than dogs classified with stages IIb, III or IV while no differences in ConA IFN-γ or IL-10 concentrations were observed among groups. Thirty-five dogs produced significantly higher LSA IFN-γ (mean ± SD: 2320 ± 3960 pg/ml) and ConA IFN-γ (mean ± SD: 7887 ± 7273 pg/ml) when compared with 25 dogs that did not produce detectable LSA IFN-γ but produced ConA IFN-γ (mean ± SD: 4917 ± 5233 pg/ml). IFN-γ producer dogs presented lower (mean ± SD: 5750 ± 14,082 ELISA units (EU), P = 0.001) antibody levels and blood parasitemia (mean ± SD: 5 ± 10 parasites/ml, P = 0.001) when compared with IFN-γ non-producers (mean ± SD: 19,638 ± 28,596 EU and 1100 ± 5112 parasites/ml), respectively. LSA IL-10 was not detectable in 34 dogs while 49 dogs secreted ConA IL-10 (mean ± SD of 90 ± 103 pg/ml). LSA IFN-γ concentration was negatively correlated with blood parasitemia and antibody levels and positively correlated with ConA IFN-γ and LSA IL-10 concentrations. Conclusions: The results of this study demonstrate that sick dogs lacking L. infantum specific IFN-γ production in stimulated whole blood produce a strong humoral response, have a high blood parasitemia and severe clinical disease. IL-10 does not appear to be a marker of disease severity.
- Clinical staging
- Leishmania infantum