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A chronic bioluminescent model of experimental visceral leishmaniasis for accelerating drug discovery

AuthorsÁlvarez-Velilla, Raquel; Gutiérrez-Corbo, M. del Camino; Punzón, Carmen ; Pérez-Pertejo, Yolanda; Balaña-Fouce, Rafael; Fresno, Manuel ; Reguera, Rosa María
Issue Date14-Feb-2019
PublisherPublic Library of Science
CitationPLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 13 (2019)
AbstractBackground Visceral leishmaniasis is a neglected parasitic disease with no vaccine available and its pharmacological treatment is reduced to a limited number of unsafe drugs. The scarce readiness of new antileishmanial drugs is even more alarming when relapses appear or the occurrence of hard-to-treat resistant strains is detected. In addition, there is a gap between the initial and late stages of drug development, which greatly delays the selection of leads for subsequent studies. Methodology/Principal findings In order to address these issues, we have generated a red-shifted luminescent Leishmania infantum strain that enables long-term monitoring of parasite burden in individual animals with an in vivo limit of detection of 106 intracellular amastigotes 48 h postinfecton. For thispurpose, we have injected intravenously different infective doses (104—5x108) of metacyclic parasites in susceptible mouse models and the disease was monitored from initial times to 21 weeks postinfection. The emission of light from the target organs demonstrated the sequential parasite colonization of liver, spleen and bone marrow. When miltefosine was used as proof-of-concept, spleen weight parasite burden and bioluminescence values decreased significantly. Conclusions In vivo bioimaging using a red-shifted modified Leishmania infantum strain allows the appraisal of acute and chronic stage of infection, being a powerful tool for accelerating drug development against visceral leishmaniasis during both stages and helping to bridge the gap between early discovery process and subsequent drug development
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0007133
Identifiersdoi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0007133
issn: 1935-2735
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