National Reference Laboratory for Leishmaniasis

Despoina Smirlis

Penny Smyrlis

Head of the National Reference Laboratory for Leishmaniasis
& Molecular Parasitology Laboratory

2106478 827
.img@.img CV

ABOUT

The National Reference Laboratory for Leishmaniasis is in operation since 1986 and its mission is the surveillance of visceral leishmaniasis (Κala-Azar), an endemic zoonoses caused by the protozoan parasite Leishmania infantum. The disease is spread during the blood meal of the infected shadfly (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. Among its main tasks are included laboratory control of sera from patients and dogs, the isolation and typing of parasites, conduction of epidemiological surveys and information of the Public Health Authorities (HCDCP).
The National Reference Laboratory for Leishmaniasis has been operating since 1986 and its purpose is to monitor leishmaniasis, an important anthropozoonosis caused by protozoa of the genus Leishmania. Leishmaniasis is ranked by WHO, only second parasitic disease after malaria in years of life adapted to disability (DALYs). Leishmaniasis spreads during a blood meal of infected sandflies (Phlebotomus species in the Old World), while animals such as dogs, wolves, and rodents are the natural hosts of the parasite. Leishmaniasis is endemic in Greece and appears with two clinical manifestations, visceral and cutaneous. To date, Leishmania infantum and Leishmania tropica are the causative agents of these forms of the disease in Greece. At the same time, in the greater neighborhood of the Eastern Mediterranean, important changes in the epidemiology of leishmaniasis are observed, due to climate change, population movements (boost of migration flows, tourism, trade activities), and population bottlenecks, resulting in the introduction of new endemic groups and parasite species. In addition, the presence of endemic sandfly species, capable of transmitting new Leishmania species or groups, is an alarm call for Public Health in Greece, which requires ongoing epidemiological surveillance in Greece.
The Hellenic Pasteur Institute has contracted a programmatic agreement with the National Health Organization, to perform diagnostic tests for leishmaniasis and species typing, for enhancing disease surveillance in Greece, and the capacity to efficiently coordinate measures to protect Public Health.

ACTIVITIES AND METHODOLOGY

The main activities of the National Reference Laboratory for Leishmaniasis: laboratory testing from biological material of patients (serum, biopsies), isolation and species typing of parasites, epidemiological studies, risk assessment, and informing the Public Health Authorities (EODY). The National Reference Laboratory for Leishmaniasis and the Molecular Parasitology Laboratory of the Hellenic Pasteur Institute, have a large biobank of strains of the Leishmania donovani complex (L. infantum and L. donovani) (>200 strains) from southeastern Europe, which can be used for phenotypic and epidemiological comparisons with new strains.

  • Diagnostic tests for leishmaniasis  EODY Laboratory Surveillance | the Hellenic Pasteur Institute are performed by the Diagnostic Department of the HPΙ | Hellenic Pasteur Institute with serological testing [immunofluorescence antibody test (IFAT)] or with molecular testing (Real-time PCR).
  • The Leishmania Typing and species identification is carried out by Internal Transcribed Spacer 1 (ITS1) sequencing.

PUBLICATIONS

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Bussotti G, Gouzelou E, Côrtes Boité M, Kherachi I, Harrat Z, Eddaikra N, Mottram JC, Antoniou M, Christodoulou V, Bali A, Guerfali FZ, Laouini D, Mukhtar M, Dumetz F, Dujardin JC, Smirlis D, Lechat P, Pescher P, El Hamouchi A, Lemrani M, Chicharro C, Llanes-Acevedo IP, Botana L, Cruz I, Moreno J, Jeddi F, Aoun K, Bouratbine A, Cupolillo E, Späth GF. Leishmania Genome Dynamics during Environmental Adaptation Reveal Strain-Specific Differences in Gene Copy Number Variation, Karyotype Instability, and Telomeric Amplification. mBio. 2018 Nov 6;9(6):e01399-18. doi: 10.1128/mBio.01399-18.

2018
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Boutsini S, Athanasiou LV, Spanakos G, Ntousi D, Dotsika E, Bisia M. and Papadopoulos E. 2017. Phlebotomine sandflies and factors associated with their abundance in the leishmaniasis endemic area of Attiki, Greece. Parasitol Res. 117(1):107-113. DOI: 10.1007/s00436-017-5675-8. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00436-017-5675-8. Epub 2017 Nov 10. PubMed PMID:29127526.

2017
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Gouzelou E, Haralambous C, Antoniou M, Christodoulou V, Martinkovi F, Ivi Njak T, Smirlis D, Pratlong F, Dedet JP, Ozbel Y, Toz SO, Presber W, Schönian G, Soteriadou K. Genetic diversity and structure in Leishmania infantum populations from southeastern Europe revealed by microsatellite analysis. Parasit Vectors. 2013 Dec 5;6(1):342. DOI: 10.1186/1756-3305-6-342. https://doi.org/10.1186/1756-3305-6-342. Epub 2013 Dec 5. PubMed PMID: 24308691; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4029556

2013
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Gouzelou E, Haralambous C, Amro A, Mentis A, Pratlong F, Dedet JP, Votypka J, Volf P, Toz SO, Kuhls K, Schönian G, Soteriadou K. Multilocus microsatellite typing (MLMT) of strains from Turkey and Cyprus reveals a novel monophyletic L. donovani sensu lato group. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2012;6(2):e1507. doi:10.1371/ journal.pntd.0001507. DOI:10.1371/journal.pntd.0001507. https://doi.org/10.1371/ journal.pntd.0001507.s001. Epub 2012 Feb 14. PubMed PMID: 22348162; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3279343.

2012
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Mazeris A, Soteriadou K, Dedet JP, Haralambous C, Tsatsaris A, Moschandreas J, Messaritakis I, Christodoulou V, Papadopoulos B, Ivovic V, Pratlong F, Loucaides F, Antoniou M. Leishmaniases and the Cyprus paradox. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2010 Mar;82(3):441-8. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.2010.09-0282. https://doi.org/10.4269/ ajtmh .2010.09-0282. Epub 2010 March 1. PubMed PMID: 20207870; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2829906.
Tsatchev I., I.D. Kyriazis, S. Boutsini, E. Karagouni and E.Ν. Dotsika (2010). First Report of canine visceral leishmaniasis in Bulgaria. Turkish J. Vet. Anim. Science 34(3):1-5. DOI: 10.3906/vet-0905-16

2010
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Alam MZ, Haralambous C, Kuhls K, Gouzelou E, Sgouras D, Soteriadou K, Schnur L, Pratlong F, Schönian G. The paraphyletic composition of Leishmania donovani zymodeme MON-37 revealed by multilocus microsatellite typing. Microbes Infect. 2009 May-Jun;11(6-7):707-15. doi: 10.1016/j.micinf.2009.04.009. https://doi.org /10.1016/j.micinf.2009.04.009. Epub 2009 Apr 17. PubMed PMID: 19376262
Antoniou M, Haralambous C, Mazeris A, Pratlong F, Dedet JP, Soteriadou K. Leishmania donovani leishmaniasis in Cyprus. Lancet Infect Dis. 2009 Feb;9(2):76-7. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(09)70004-0. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(09)70004-0. PubMed PMID: 19179221.

2009
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Kuhls K, Chicharro C, Cañavate C, Cortes S, Campino L, Haralambous C, Soteriadou K, Pratlong F, Dedet JP, Mauricio I, Miles M, Schaar M, Ochsenreither S, Radtke OA, Schönian G. Differentiation and gene flow among European populations of Leishmania infantum MON-1. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2008 Jul 9;2(7):e261. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0000261. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0000261. Epub 2008 July 9. PubMed PMID: 18612461; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2438616.
Antoniou M, Haralambous C, Mazeris A, Pratlong F, Dedet JP, Soteriadou K. Leishmania donovani leishmaniasis in Cyprus. Lancet Infect Dis. 2008 Jan;8(1):6-7. DOI: 10.1016/S1473-3099(07)70297-9. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(07)70297-9. PubMed PMID: 18156082.
10. Haralambous C, Antoniou M, Pratlong F, Dedet JP, Soteriadou K. Development of a molecular assay specific for the Leishmania donovani complex that discriminates L. donovani/Leishmania infantum zymodemes: a useful tool for typing MON-1. Diagn Microbiol Infect Dis. 2008 Jan;60(1):33-42. DOI: 10.1016/ j.diagmicrobio. 2007.07.019. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.diagmicrobio. 2007.07 .019. Epub 2007 Sep 21. PubMed PMID:17889482.
Gradoni L, Soteriadou K, Louzir H, Dakkak A, Toz SO, Jaffe C, Dedet JP, Campino L, Cañavate C, Dujardin JC. Drug regimens for visceral leishmaniasis in Mediterranean countries. Trop Med Int Health. 2008 Oct;13(10):1272-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3156.2008.02144.x. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-3156.2008.02144.x. Epub 2008 Aug 24. PubMed PMID: 18764817.
Dujardin JC, Campino L, Cañavate C, Dedet JP, Gradoni L, Soteriadou K, Mazeris A, Ozbel Y, Boelaert M. Spread of vector-borne diseases and neglect of Leishmaniasis, Europe. Emerg Infect Dis. 2008 Jul;14(7):1013-8. doi: 10.3201/eid1407.071589. http://www.cdc.gov/eid/content/14/7/1013.htm. Review. PubMed PMID: 18598618; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2600355.

2008
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Haralambous C, Dakkak A, Pratlong F, Dedet JP, Soteriadou K. First detection and genetic typing of Leishmania infantum MON-24 in a dog from the Moroccan Mediterranean coast: genetic diversity of MON-24. Acta Trop. 2007 Jul;103(1):69-79. DOI: 10.1016/j.actatropica.2007.05.008. https://doi.org/ 10.1016/j.actatropica. 2007 .05. 008. Epub 2007 May 24. PubMed PMID: 17603990.
Lukes J, Mauricio IL, Schönian G, Dujardin JC, Soteriadou K, Dedet JP, Kuhls K, Tintaya KW, Jirků M, Chocholová E, Haralambous C, Pratlong F, Oborník M, Horák A, Ayala FJ, Miles MA. Evolutionary and geographical history of the Leishmania donovani complex with a revision of current taxonomy. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 May 29;104(22):9375-80. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0703678104. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0703678104. Epub 2007 May 21. PubMed PMID: 17517634; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC1890502.

2007
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Sideris, V., G. Papadopoulou, E.N. Dotsika and E. Karagouni. (1998). Asymptomatic canine leishmaniasis in the greater Athens area, Greece. Eur. J. Epidemiol., 15: 271-276. DOI: 10.1023/a:1007526401175. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1007526401175. Epub 1999 March. PubMed PMID: 10395058

1998
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Sideris, V., E.E. Karagouni, G. Papadopoulou, A. Garyfallou and E.N. Dotsika. (1996). Canine visceral leishmaniasis in the great Athens area, Greece. Parasite, 3 : 125-130. Epub 1996 June 1. PubMed PMID: 8758549

1996

MEMBERS

Despina Smirlis, Biochemist-Ph.D.

Principal Investigator,

Head of the National Reference Laboratory for Leishmaniasis and Molecular Parasitology Laboratory,

Τel.: +30 210-6478841, +30 210-6478827

Email: .img@.img

 

Emmanuel Angelakis, Biopathologist- Clinical Microbiologist,- MD/Ph.D.

Principal Investigator,

Co-responsible for the National Reference Laboratory for Leishmaniasis and Head of the Diagnostics Department,

Τel.: +30 210-6478809

Email: .img@.img

 

Olga Koutsoni, Ph.D.- Biologist,

Technical Specialist Scientist of the National Reference Laboratory for Leishmaniasis and the Cellular Immunology Laboratory,

the

Τel.: +30 210-6478825
Email: .img@.img

 

Eleni Dotsika, DVM-Ph.D

Ex Research Director,

Partner of the National Reference Laboratory for Leishmaniasis and the Cellular Immunology Laboratory,

Tel: +30 210-6478828

Εmail: .img@.img

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