Abstract

Diseases such as leishmaniases are important causes of morbidity and mortality in Brazil, and their diagnoses need to be improved. The use of monoclonal antibodies has ensured high specificity to immunodiagnosis. The development of an immunosensor, coupling a monoclonal antibody to a bioelectronic device capable of quickly detecting Leishmania sp. antigens both qualitatively and quantitatively, is a promising alternative for the diagnosis of leishmaniasis due to its high specificity, low cost, and portability, compared with conventional methods. The present work was aimed at developing an immunosensor-based assay for detecting Leishmania infantum antigens in tissues of infected hosts. Four hybridomas producing monoclonal antibodies against L. infantum had their specificity confirmed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. These antibodies were immobilized on a gold surface, covered with a thin film of 2-aminoethanethiol (cysteamine) and glutaraldehyde, blocked with glycine, and placed into contact with extracts of L. infantum–infected and noninfected control hamster spleens. The assay was able to detect 1.8 × 104 amastigotes/g of infected tissue. These results demonstrated that this assay may be useful for quantifying L. infantum amastigotes in organs of experimental animals for studies on pathogenesis and immunity and that it is a promising tool for the development of a diagnostic method, based on antigen detection, of human and dog visceral leishmaniasis.

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