Leishmania parasites are transmitted by bites of phlebotomine sand flies. During blood feeding, sand fly females salivate into the host skin; the saliva has immunomodulatory properties and affects the outcome of Leishmania infection. Repeated exposure of hosts to bites of uninfected sand flies protects against Leishmania transmission; a phenomenon employed in the development of transmission-blocking vaccine. On the other hand, a single study (published recently by our group) reported the effect of sand fly bites on Leishmania in infected hosts but the underlaying immune response is unknown.

The aim of this project is to describe the effect of timing between mice exposure to sand fly saliva and the challenge by Leishmania on (1) infection development, and (2) immune response. The experiments include exposure to sand fly bites after infection, the schedule occurring in endemic areas but not yet tested in laboratory.

The methods will include RT-PCR for parasite load quantification, FACS analysis of selected immune cells, cytokine analysis (cultivation, cytometry, ELISA), serological techniques (ELISA, immunoblot), and microscopic analysis (histology, immunohistochemistry, immunofluorescence).

The results will render new insights into the host immune response against sand fly saliva in relation to Leishmania infection and could be implemented in future prophylactic interventions.


Five relevant publications of the research group:

Vojtková B, Frynta D, Spitzova T, Lestinova T, Votypka J, Volf P, Sádlová J (2021). Repeated sand fly bites of infected BALB/c mice enhance the development of Leishmania lesions. Frontiers in Tropical Diseases 2:745104. doi: 10.3389/fitd.2021.745104

Sumová P, Sanjoba C, Willen L, Polanska N, Matsumoto Y, Noiri E, Paul SK, Ozbel Y, Volf P (2021) PpSP32-like protein as a marker of human exposure to Phlebotomus argentipes in Leishmania donovani foci in Bangladesh. International Journal for Parasitology 51: 1059-1068.

Willen L, Leštinová T, Kalousková B, Sumová P, Spitzová T, Velez R, Domenech E, Vanek O, Gallego M, Mertens P, Volf P (2019). Field study of the improved rapid sand fly exposure test in areas endemic for canine leishmaniasis. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 13: e0007832.

Šíma M, Ferencová B, Bhatacharyya T, Miles MA, Litvinov SV, Hailu A, Baneth G, Volf P (2019) Synthetic peptides as a novel approach for detecting antibodies against sand fly saliva. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 13: e0007078.

Leštinová T, Rohoušová I, Sima M, de Oliveira CI, Volf P (2017) Insights into the sand fly saliva: Blood-feeding and immune interactions between sand flies, hosts, and Leishmania. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 11: e0005600.

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