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Serum amyloid A levels and alpha 2 and gamma globulins on serum protein electrophoresis in cats exposed to and infected with Leishmania infantum.

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Savioli, Giulia 
Archer, Joy 
Brianti, Emanuele 
Benelli, Giovanni 
Schnyder, Manuela 


BACKGROUND: Dogs are the main reservoir hosts of Leishmania infantum; nevertheless, recent investigations indicate a likely role for cats in the epidemiology of Leishmania infection. Feline leishmaniosis (FeL) remains poorly characterised, partly due to the lack of suitable diagnostic tools. This study aimed to compare serum amyloid A (SAA) levels and serum protein electrophoresis (SPE) profiles (specifically, alpha 2 and gamma globulins) in cats naturally exposed to or infected by L. infantum from southern Italy versus those of healthy controls and versus cats with neoplastic or inflammatory conditions from non-endemic areas. METHODS: Serum or plasma samples from four cohorts of cats were analysed for SAA levels and by SPE: (i) G1: healthy controls from Leishmania-non-endemic regions of Switzerland; (ii) G2: cats pre-diagnosed with neoplastic or inflammatory conditions available from the University of Cambridge sample archive; (iii) G3: L. infantum-seropositive, quantitative (q)PCR-negative cats from southern Italy; (iv) G4: L. infantum-seropositive and qPCR-positive cats from southern Italy. SAA data were assessed for normality and homoscedasticity using the Shapiro-Wilk and Levene's tests, respectively; the Kruskall-Wallis test, followed by Dunn's test with Bonferroni correction were subsequently used to compare SAA serum levels between groups. A weighted generalised linear model with a binomial distribution was used to assess statistically significant differences in the numbers of animals displaying elevated gamma globulins and increased alpha 2 globulins between groups. RESULTS: Overall, 68 samples were analysed (G1: n = 16, G2: n = 20, G3: n = 20, G4: n = 12). Cats suffering from neoplastic and inflammatory conditions (G2 ) showed significantly higher SAA levels than healthy controls (G1) (median values [interquartile range]: G1: 0.00 [0.00-0.00] mg/l versus G2: 0.85 [0.00-49.55] mg/l). G2, G3 and G4 cats showed higher percentages of individuals with increased alpha 2 globulins (percentages ± standard error: G1 = 20.0% ± 10.3, G2 = 80.0% ± 8.9, G3 = 70.0% ± 10.2, G4 = 75.0% ± 12.5) and gamma globulins (G1 = 0.0% ± 0, G2 = 65.0% ± 10.7, G3 = 50.0% ± 11.2, G4 = 58.3% ± 14.2) than healthy control cats (G1). For all three markers, no significant difference between cats within G2, G3 and G4 was recorded. CONCLUSIONS: This study indicates that the proportions of animals with elevated levels of alpha 2 and gamma globulins are significantly higher in cats exposed to and infected with L. infantum. Levels of SAA and alpha 2 and gamma globulins may not be used to differentiate between L. infantum infection or exposure, and neoplastic and/or inflammatory conditions.



Acute phase protein, Alpha 2 globulins, Feline leishmaniosis, Gamma globulins, Leishmania infantum, Phlebotomine sand flies, Serum amyloid A, Serum protein electrophoresis, Animals, Cat Diseases, Cats, Cohort Studies, Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis, Leishmania infantum, Leishmaniasis, Visceral, Serum Amyloid A Protein, gamma-Globulins

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC