Semi-quantitative, duplexed qPCR assay for the detection of leishmania spp. using bisulphite conversion technology

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease, 2019, 4 (4)
Issue Date:
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© 2019 by the authors. Leishmaniasis is caused by the flagellated protozoan Leishmania, and is a neglected tropical disease (NTD), as defined by theWorld Health Organisation (WHO). Bisulphite conversion technology converts all genomic material to a simplified form during the lysis step of the nucleic acid extraction process, and increases the efficiency of multiplex quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) reactions. Through utilization of qPCR real-time probes, in conjunction with bisulphite conversion, a new duplex assay targeting the 18S rDNA gene region was designed to detect all Leishmania species. The assay was validated against previously extracted DNA, from seven quantitated DNA and cell standards for pan-Leishmania analytical sensitivity data, and 67 cutaneous clinical samples for cutaneous clinical sensitivity data. Specificity was evaluated by testing 76 negative clinical samples and 43 bacterial, viral, protozoan and fungal species. The assay was also trialed in a side-by-side experiment against a conventional PCR (cPCR), based on the Internal transcribed spacer region 1 (ITS1 region). Ninety-seven percent of specimens from patients that previously tested positive for Leishmania were positive for Leishmania spp. with the bisulphite conversion assay, and a limit of detection (LOD) of 10 copies per PCR was achieved, while the LOD of the ITS1 methodology was 10 cells/1000 genomic copies per PCR. This method of rapid, accurate and simple detection of Leishmania can lead to improved diagnosis, treatment and public health outcomes.
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