Genetic Diversity and Population Structure of Leishmania infantum from Southeastern France: Evaluation Using Multi-Locus Microsatellite Typing

Pomares C, Marty P, Bañuls AL, Lemichez E, Pratlong F, Faucher B, Jeddi F, Moore S, Michel G, Aluru S, Piarroux R, Hide M

PLoS Negl Trop Dis 2016 Jan;10(1):e0004303


PMID: 26808522

In the south of France, Leishmania infantum is responsible for numerous cases of canine leishmaniasis (CanL), sporadic cases of human visceral leishmaniasis (VL) and rare cases of cutaneous and muco-cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL and MCL, respectively). Several endemic areas have been clearly identified in the south of France including the Pyrénées-Orientales, Cévennes (CE), Provence (P), Alpes-Maritimes (AM) and Corsica (CO). Within these endemic areas, the two cities of Nice (AM) and Marseille (P), which are located 150 km apart, and their surroundings, concentrate the greatest number of French autochthonous leishmaniasis cases. In this study, 270 L. infantum isolates from an extended time period (1978-2011) from four endemic areas, AM, P, CE and CO, were assessed using Multi-Locus Microsatellite Typing (MLMT). MLMT revealed a total of 121 different genotypes with 91 unique genotypes and 30 repeated genotypes. Substantial genetic diversity was found with a strong genetic differentiation between the Leishmania populations from AM and P. However, exchanges were observed between these two endemic areas in which it seems that strains spread from AM to P. The genetic differentiations in these areas suggest strong epidemiological structuring. A model-based analysis using STRUCTURE revealed two main populations: population A (consisting of samples primarily from the P and AM endemic areas with MON-1 and non-MON-1 strains) and population B consisting of only MON-1 strains essentially from the AM endemic area. For four patients, we observed several isolates from different biological samples which provided insight into disease relapse and re-infection. These findings shed light on the transmission dynamics of parasites in humans. However, further data are required to confirm this hypothesis based on a limited sample set. This study represents the most extensive population analysis of L. infantum strains using MLMT conducted in France.