Conventional PCR provides Leishmania species characterization with even a small amount of biological material. Species-specific primers have been a widely used alternative; however, nonspecific amplifications are a reality, interfering with PCR efficiency. In endemic areas with multiple etiological agents for leishmaniasis, there is a requirement for higher specificity of primers. This study evaluates 3 pairs of primers described for the identification and characterization of Leishmania infantum. Primers RV1/RV2, LEISH1/LEISH2, and FLC2/RLC2 were used with the DNA of L. infantum, Leishmania amazonensis, and Leishmania braziliensis. An initial temperature curve was performed (52–62 C) to determine the optimal annealing temperature, followed by a dilution curve of Leishmania DNA (500 pg/μl, 50 pg/μl, 5 pg/μl, 500 fg/μl, 50 fg/μl, 5 fg/μl, and 0.5 fg/μl) to be used for analytical sensitivity. RV1/RV2 PCR amplified L. infantum and L. amazonensis at all analyzed temperatures; LEISH1/LEISH2 PCR amplified all 3 species of Leishmania, although at some temperatures L. infantum was specifically amplified, and, finally, FLC2/RLC2 PCR amplified only L. infantum at all temperatures analyzed. In terms of sensitivity, RV1/RV2 PCR detected 1 fg of L. infantum DNA and 100 pg of L. amazonensis DNA; LEISH1/LEISH2 PCR detected 1 fg of L. infantum DNA, 100 fg of L. amazonensis DNA, and 10 fg of L. braziliensis DNA; and FLC2/RLC2 PCR detected 10 fg of L. infantum DNA. Thus, PCR with FLC2/RLC2 primers is best suited for the molecular characterization of L. infantum, especially in areas where there is an incidence of more than 1 Leishmania species, such as South America.

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