Conventional serological tests, using total soluble proteins or a cocktail of recombinant proteins from T. cruzi as antigens, are highly sensitive for Chagas disease diagnosis. This type of tests, however, does not seem to be reliable tools for short- and medium-term monitoring of the evolution of patients after antiparasitic treatment. The aim of the present study was to search for immunological markers that could be altered in the sera from Chagas disease patients after benznidazole treatment, and therefore have a potential predictive diagnostic value.
We analyzed the reactivity of sera from chagasic patients during different clinical phases of the disease against a series of immunodominant antigens, known as KMP11, PFR2, HSP70 and Tgp63. The reactivity of the sera from 46 adult Chronic Chagas disease patients living in a non-endemic country without vector transmission of T. cruzi (15 patients in the indeterminate stage, 16 in the cardiomiopathy stage and 16 in the digestive stage) and 22 control sera from non-infected subjects was analyzed. We also analyzed the response dynamics of sera from those patients who had been treated with benznidazole.
Regardless of the stage of the sickness, the sera from chagasic patients reacted against KMP11, HSP70, PFR2 and Tgp63 recombinant proteins with statistical significance relative to the reactivity against the same antigens by the sera from healthy donors, patients with autoimmune diseases or patients suffering from tuberculosis, leprosy or malaria. Shortly after benznidazole treatment, a statistically significant decrease in reactivity against KMP11, HSP70 and PFR2 was observed (six or nine month). It was also observed that, following benznidazole treatment, the differential reactivity against these antigens co-relates with the clinical status of the patients.
The recombinant antigens KMP11, PFR2, Tgp63 and HSP70 are recognized by Chagas disease patients' sera at any clinical stage of the disease. Shortly after benznidazole treatment, a drop in reactivity against three of these antigens is produced in an antigen-specific manner. Most likely, analysis of the reactivity against these recombinant antigens may be useful for monitoring the effectiveness of benznidazole treatment.