Reference Center for Leishmaniasis

Head: Eleni Dotsika, Veterinarian,
Tel: +30-210-6478 828


The Reference Center for Leishmaniasis is in operation since 1986 after authorization from the Minister of Health (Record Number 157/ 1986). The principal aim of this Center is the study of visceral leishmaniasis (Κala-Azar), an endemic zoonosis caused by the parasite Leishmania infantum. Disease is spreading during the blood meal of the infected sandfly (diptera belonging to the genders Phlebotomus και Sergentomyia), while species like the dog, wolf, jackal or rodents and other wild animals serve as a natural reservoir. In the urban areas, the dog is the main reservoir.

Number of samples
The annual number of samples is approximately 3500 dog sera, while patient sera range from 250 (average for the years 1992-2002).

Tasks and methodology

  • Serological examination of patients and dogs suspected for leishmaniasis
  • Detection of the parasite in blood or biopsy speciments using PCR and classification of species and subspecies using PCR-SSCP and PCR-RFLP
  • Isolation of strains form biological samples derived from man and animals in an animal model of choice (Hamsters)
  • Keeping record of the incidents, conduction of epidemiological surveys and notification of the Public Health Services and the Mediterranean Zoonoses Control Center (ΜΖCC/WHO)
  • Mass production and distribution of reagents used in the detection of the parasite (i.e. promastigotes grown in vitro in single-phase cultures for IFAT and soluble parasite antigen for ELISA). These antigens are supplied to the Diagnosis Department of the HPI and the Centers for the Control of the Disease (Regional Veterinarian Laboratories of the Ministry of Agriculture).
  • Development and implementation of new technology, in the context of scientific collaboration (Dr K. Soteriadou) with acknowledged European Reference Centers for the disease. In particular, emphasis is given to the development of novel markers/molecules for the amelioration of diagnostic tests in human and animal hosts and the genotypic classification of species and subspecies (PCR-RFLP, PCR-SSCP, DNA chips).

1.      Sideris V., Karagouni E., Papadopoulou G., Garifallou A. & Dotsika E. Canine visceral leishmaniasis in the great Athens Area, Greece.  Parasite, 1996, 3 ,125-130.

2.      Spiliotis T., A. Tsirogianni, P. Pipis, C. Pantelidaki, E. Dotsika, D. Vlachopoulos, M. Anagnostopoulou, M. Fameli, A. Tassidou, D. Anagnostou, O. Paniara, I. Economidou, and G. Saroglou (1997). A case of autoimmune inflammatory connective tissue disease and leishmaniasis. Hell Rheumatol, 8(4), 283-289.

3.      Papadopoulou G., E. Karagouni and E. Dotsika (1998). ISCOMs vaccine against experimental leishmaniasis.Vaccine 16, No 9/10 pp. 885-892.

4.      Sideris, V., G. Papadopoulou, E. Dotsika and E. Karagouni. (1999). Asymptomatic canine leishmaniasis in the greater Athens area, Greece. European J. of Epidemiology 15, 271-276.

5.      Α. Bisti, G. Konidou, F. Papageorgiou, G. Milon, J. Boelart and K. Soteriadou (2000). Iron modulation of experimental leishmaniasis. J. Clin. Virol. 16, 83

6.      S. Bisti, G. Konidou, F. Papageorgiou, G. Milon, J. Boelart and K. Soteriadou (2000). The outcome of  Leishmania major experimental infection in BALB/C mice can be modulated by endogenously delivered iron. Eur. J. Immunol. 30,3732-3740

7.      J. Boelaert, R. Appelberg, M. Gomes, E. Blasi, R. Mazzolla, J. Grosset, N. Lounis, K. Soteriadou, M. Thiakaki, D. Taramelli, C. Tognazioli (2001). Experimental results on chloroquine and AIDS-opportunists. JAIDS Hum. Retroviruses. 26,300-301

8.      F. Papageorgiou and K. Soteriadou (2002). Expression of a novel Leishmania gene encoding for an histone H1-like protein in L.major modulates Leishmania infectivity in vitro. Infect. Immun. (In press)