Summary: Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) in northeast Brazil is a disease caused by infection with the protozoan Leishmania chagasi. Infection leads to variable clinical outcomes ranging from asymptomatic infection to potentially fatal disease. Prior studies suggest the genetic background of the host contributes to the development of different outcomes after infection, although it is not known if ancestral background itself influences outcomes. VL is endemic in peri-urban areas around the city of Natal in northeast Brazil. The population of northeast Brazil is a mixture of distinct racial and ethnic groups. We hypothesized that some sub-populations may be more susceptible than others to develop different clinical outcomes after L. chagasi infection. Using microsatellite markers, we examined whether admixture of the population as a whole, or markers likely inherited from a distinct ethnic background, differed between individuals with VL, individuals with an asymptomatic infection, or individuals with no infection. There was no apparent significant difference in overall population admixture proportions among the three clinical phenotype groups. However, one marker on Chr. 22 displayed evidence of excess ancestry from putative ancestral populations among different clinical phenotypes, suggesting this region may contain genes determining the course of L. chagasi infection.
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