Evaluation of the rSP03B sero-strip, a newly proposed rapid test for canine exposure to Phlebotomus perniciosus, vector of Leishmania infantum - Project 2.6 journal article

Laura Willen , Pascal Mertens, Petr Volf

PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases 12/8

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Canine leishmaniasis (CanL) is a zoonotic disease, caused by Leishmania infantum and transmitted by Phlebotomus perniciosus in the Mediterranean basin. Previously, an ELISA based on the P. perniciosus salivary protein SP03B was proposed as a valid tool to screen for canine exposure to sand fly bites across regions endemic for CanL. Although this approach is useful in laboratory settings, a practical tool for immediate application in the field is needed. In this study we propose the rSP03B sero-strip, the first immunochromatographic test (ICT) in the field of vector exposure able to rapidly screen dogs living in endemic areas for the presence of P. perniciosus and to aid in the evaluation of vector control programs.

Methodology/Principal findings

The ICT was prepared using the bacterially expressed recombinant protein rSP03B as antigen. For test optimization, pre-immune sera from non-bitten laboratory-bred Beagles were used as negative controls. In order to validate the test, sera from laboratory-bred Beagles experimentally exposed to P. perniciosus bites were used as positive controls. Additionally, all samples were tested by ELISA using whole salivary gland homogenate (SGH) and the rSP03B protein as antigen. An almost perfect degree of agreement was found between the ICT and the SGH-ELISA. Furthermore, the newly proposed rSP03B sero-strip showed a sensitivity of 100% and a specificity of 86.79%.


We developed a simple and rapid ICT based on the P. perniciosus rSP03B salivary protein, able to replace the standard ELISA used in previous studies. Our rSP03B sero-strip showed to be highly sensitive and specific in the detection of antibodies (IgG) against P. perniciosus saliva. In the future, this test can be employed during large-scale epidemiological studies of CanL in the Mediterranean area to evaluate the efficacy of vector control programs.