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Leishmania donovani - MicrobeWiki

Leishmania donovani
From MicrobeWiki, the student-edited microbiology resource
This student page has not been curated. A Microbial Biorealm page on the genus Leishmania donovani

1 Classification 2 Description and significance 3 Genome structure 4 Cell structure, metabolism & life cycle 5 Ecology (including pathogenesis) 6 Interesting feature 7 References

Eukaryota; Euglenozoa; Kinetoplastida; Trypanosomatidae; Leishmania; Leshmania; Leishmania donovani (5)

Description and significance

Leishmania donovani is a single-celled, parasitic protozoa. Each species of Leishmania is adapted to transmission in a specific species of sandflies, which act as biological vectors, spreading the Leishmania donovani to humans. Leishmania donovani is the primary cause of visceral leishmaniasis, or kala azar, in humans. In humans, visceral leishmaniasis mainly occurs in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and in the Mediterranean region. The incubation period for visceral leishmaniasis can last anywhere from ten days to years without symptoms, although most cases begin to show symptoms between two and six months. Symptoms of this disease can include a prolonged fever, a decreased appetite, weight loss, signs of anemia, abdominal distension, and abnormal enlargement of the spleen and liver. Coughing, darkening of the skin, chronic diarrhea, infection of the lymph nodes, and signs of chronic kidney disease may also by symptomatic of visceral leishmaniasis. Without treatment most cases are fatal, usually due to a secondary infection or other complications (6). Patients who are treated for the infections will still carry the parasite Leishmania donovani and risk reoccurrence of the disease if they become immunosuppressed (7). In some cases of visceral leishmaniasis caused by Leishmania donovani, after recovery patients will develop a syndrome called post-kala azar dermal leishmaniasis (PKDL). This syndrome usually occurs within six months of visceral leishmaniasis and is characterized by a rash around the mouth, which spreads but disappears within a year without treatment. PKDL is common in Africa but rare in South Asia, where it generally appears several years after visceral leishmaniasis rather than six months. In India, PKLD is also rare, with only 1-3 % of successfully treated visceral leishmaniasis patients showing evidence of the syndrome. Visceral leishmaniasis can be cured in

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Leishmania donovani - MicrobeWiki

individuals with un-compromised immune systems. In AIDS patients, visceral leishmaniasis is usually resistant to treatment and patients relapse. Because Leishmania donovani is given to humans from sandflies, the best way to prevent contracting visceral leishmaniasis is to prevent sandflies by using repellents and bed nets. The number of infections increases in warmer months when sandflies are more active. Roughly 500,000 causes of visceral leishmaniasis occur world wide each year, and this number is likely an underestimate because many cases are not diagnosed. The form of visceral leishmaniasis caused by Leishmania donovani can affect all ages. The fatality rate for untreated cases of the disease is between 75% and 95% (6).

Genome structure
The genome of Leishmania donovani has not yet been sequenced. Aside from chromosomes in the nucleus, there is kinetoplast DNA. In one study, a minimum of 22 chromosomes were found in Leishmania donovani stocks that were examined (1). Currently, information on the Leishmania donovani genome is very limited.

Cell structure, metabolism & life cycle

Under a light microscope, Leishmania donovanis intracellular form consists of a nucleus and a rod-like kinetoplast, and a homogeneous mass of cytoplasm. The extracellular form has an anterior flagellum. The intracellular form is between 2- and 4 microns and is generally round or ovoid in shape. The extracellular form is roughly 14-20 microns in length and 1.5-3.5 microns in breadth. Due to the size of L. donovani and the limited resolution of the light microscope, not much information is available on its fundamental cellular organization (2). The products of Leishmania donovanis metabolism are carbon dioxide, acetic acid, pyruvic acid, and succinic acid (4). The life cycle of Leishmania donovani has two distinct forms. One is a promastigote flagellar form that is found in the gut of the sandfly vector, and the other is an amastigote form, which develops intracellularly in the human host. Only female sandflies can transmit the disease by inoculation of the promastigote form into the skin of the human. The L. donovani are internalized by dendritic cells and macrophages in the dermis where they turn into amastigotes by losing their flagella. The amastigotes then multiply and destroy the host cell. The amastigotes spread through the lymphatic and vascular systems, and eventually spread to the bone marrow, liver, and spleen (3).

Ecology (including pathogenesis)

L. donovani spends the first portion of its life cycle living symbiotically in a sandfly and the second half of its life cycle living in the lymphatic system, vascular system, bone marrow, liver, and spleen of humans. The organism causes disease in humans by destroying host cells in the affected parts of the body, causing abnormal enlargement of the target organs among other symptoms. Other symptoms of this disease can include a prolonged fever, a decreased appetite, weight loss, signs of anemia, abdominal distension, and abnormal enlargement of the spleen and liver. Coughing, darkening of the skin, chronic diarrhea, infection of the lymph nodes, and signs of chronic kidney disease may also by symptomatic of visceral leishmaniasis (6).

Interesting feature
Although Leishmaniasis, the disease caused by L. donovani, is usually spread by sandflies that act as vectors, person-to-person transmission including venereal transmission, congenital transmission, and transmission by blood transfusion have been reported. Newborns can be transmitted leishmaniasis congenitally whether or not the mother shows symptoms of the disease. An especially interesting feature of Leishmania is that humans infected with certain species of Leshmania can infect sandflies (6).

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Leishmania donovani - MicrobeWiki

(1) Bishop, RP, and MA Miles. "Chromosome Size Polymorphisms of Leishmania Donovani." NCBI. Web. <>. (2) Chang, Patricia C.H. "T H E U L T R A S T R U C T U R E O F L E I S H M A N I A D O N O V A N 1." Journal of Parasitology Archives (1956). Print. (3) Chappuis, Franois, Shyam Sundar, Asrat Hailu, Hashim Ghalib, Suman Rijal, Rosanna W. Peeling, Jorge Alvar, and Marleen Boelaert. "Visceral Leishmaniasis: What Are the Needs for Diagnosis, Treatment and Control?" Nature Reviews Microbiology 5.11 (2007): S7-S16. Print. (4) Crowther, S., J.D. Fulton, and L.P. Joyner. "The Metabolism of Leishmania Donovani in Culture." Biochem J 56.2 (1954): 182-85. Print. (5)"Leishmania Donovani." NCBI. Web. < /wwwtax.cgi?mode=Info>. (6) "Leishmaniasis (cutaneous and Visceral)." Http:// Iowa State University, Oct. 2009. Web. <>. (7) "Visceral Leishmaniasis in HIV Infection and AIDS: Clinical Features and Response to Therapy." Oxford Journals 77.1 (1990): 1101-111. Oxford Journals | Medicine | QJM: An International Journal of Medicine. Web. <>. Retrieved from "" Category: Uncurated Pages This page was last modified on 31 October 2011, at 03:26.

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