Leishmania (Leishmania) amazonensis LV79 (MPRO/BR/72/M1841) has been adapted to grow at 33 C as amastigote-like (AL) organisms in modified UM-54 medium initially adjusted to a pH of 4.8–5.0. Axenic cultures could be routinely restarted from parasites recovered from footpad lesions obtained by inoculation of BALB/c mice with preadapted culture stages. Morphological features, proteinase activities, and infectivity of AL organisms were examined during the in vitro growth cycle, and differences were found between log- and stationary-phase parasites. Stationary-phase AL organisms were morphologically similar to lesion amastigotes, did not react with a paraflagellar rod-specific monoclonal antibody in western blots, and contained proteinase activities resolving identically to the enzymes of lesion amastigotes in gelatin gels. Whereas typical megasomes could be identified in about a third of the stationary-phase AL population, the organelles were rarely seen in log-phase organisms. Azocaseinolytic activity progressively increased during the exponential growth phase and reached its highest values (∼65–70% of those determined in lesion amastigotes) at the stationary phase; the association of total proteinase activity with increased expression of cysteine proteinases was indicated by the strong inhibition of azocasein hydrolysis by E-64, the intensified banding of the 28-, 31-, and 35-kDa proteinases in gelatin gels, and the higher susceptibility of stationary-phase AL organisms to l-leucine methyl ester. Although overall axenic amastigotes were less infective to BALB/c mice than were lesion-derived parasites, stationary-phase AL organisms were more infective than were log-phase parasites. Medium pH increased during the exponential growth phase, but dropped in the stationary phase, when the observed morphological, biochemical, and biological changes became apparent.

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