Canine Leishmaniosis: perspectives from a non-endemic country

Canine leishmaniosis is a vector borne disease caused by the protozoan Leishmania infantum which is non-endemic in the Netherlands. Due to the increase in import of (rescue)dogs from endemic countries into the Netherlands, its prevalence in this non-endemic country rises. Whether or not a dog develops severe illness after infection depends on the immune response of the dog mediated by macrophages. There might be differences between endemic and non-endemic countries because of differences in parasite loads, chance of reinfection or general husbandry conditions. The PhD project ‘Canine Leishmaniosis: perspectives from a non-endemic country’ aims to investigate the Dutch canine leishmaniosis patient population. This includes a retrospective study on the survival time and prognostic factors in canine leishmaniosis treated with a two-phase protocol consisting of initial allopurinol monotherapy. The Dutch canine population at risk of developing leishmaniosis will also be investigated by a prospective study concerning the (sero)prevalence of vector borne diseases in dogs originating from endemic areas. This study will include L. infantum as well as Ehrlichia canis and Dirofilaria immitis. In addition, fundamental immunological research into the role of macrophages in disease development will be included in this PhD project. A specific focus will be the role of macrophage polarization towards a M1 or M2 subtype. The response of the macrophage to infection with L. infantum in mononuclear cell cultures will be investigated. Several techniques including flowcytometry and qPCR will be used to asses macrophage polarization and the metabolic pathways driving this polarization.

Marja de Jong