Diagnostic and prognostic potential of a competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for leishmaniasis in India.
A Leishmania donovani species-specific monoclonal antibody (monoclonal antibody D2) was evaluated for its diagnostic and prognostic potential by a competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (C-ELISA) in sera from Indian patients with visceral leishmaniasis (VL) and seven patients with post-kala-azar dermal leishmaniasis (PKDL). These results were compared with those obtained by microscopy with Giemsa-stained tissue smears and a direct enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (direct ELISA) with crude parasite antigen. Of 121 patients with clinically diagnosed VL examined, 103 (85.1%) were positive and 11 (9.1%) were negative by all three methods. An additional 7 (5.8%) who were negative by microscopy were positive by both C-ELISA and direct ELISA. Seven PKDL patients were also examined and were found to be positive by all three methods. Analysis of the chemotherapeutic response to sodium antimony gluconate of these 110 serologically positive VL patients showed that 57 (51.8%) were drug responsive and 53 (48.2%) were drug resistant. The C-ELISA with sera from 20 longitudinally monitored VL patients before and after chemotherapy showed a significant decrease in percent inhibition of monoclonal antibody D2 in drug-responsive patients. However, in drug-unresponsive patients, the percent inhibition of D2 was unchanged or was slightly increased. Our results therefore indicate (i) the applicability of L. donovani species-specific monoclonal antibody D2 for sensitive and specific serodiagnosis by C-ELISA, (ii) that the C-ELISA is more sensitive than microscopy, especially for early diagnosis, (iii) that L. donovani is still the main causative agent of VL, irrespective of the chemotherapeutic response, and (iv) that the C-ELISA can be used to evaluate the success of drug treatment.