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Arch Dermatol Res. 2014 Mar;306(2):189-95.

Assessment of serum level of interleukin-1b and interleukin-12 in leprosy: impact of previous Bacillus Calmitte Guerin vaccination.


Macrophages play an important role in attempt to eliminate mycobacteria, via production of cytokines, including interleukin-1, and interleukin-12. Bacillus Calmitte Guerin (BCG) vaccination, known to induce interleukin-1β in tuberculosis, was originally aimed at tuberculosis control, but it showed efficacy against leprosy. Our aim was to estimate serum levels of interleukin-1β and interleukin-12, in leprosy, and to assess the impact of previous BCG vaccination on their levels. Serum interleukin-1β and interleukin-12 p70 were estimated in 43 leprotic patients and 43 controls by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Patients were grouped according to presence or absence of reactions, as well as bacillary load. Serum interleukin-1β was significantly higher in patients as compared to controls (p = 0.047), and was significantly different in patients' groups (p = 0.036); with significantly higher level in multibacillary patients, both non reactional and with erythema nodosum leprosum, compared with paucibacillary/non reactional patients (p = 0.012 and 0.049 respectively). A statistically significant higher interleukin-1β was found in BCG vaccinated paucibacillary patients as compared to unvaccinated patients (p = 0.031). Significantly elevated interleukin-12 was present in patients as compared to controls (p < 0.001), with no statistically significant difference comparing patients' groups. BCG vaccination showed stimulatory effect on monocytes only in the immunocompetent paucibacillary leprosy patients, as evidenced by higher Interleukin-1β in this group. Interleukin-1β was shown to have a pro-inflammatory role in multibacillary patients with or without erythema nodosum leprosum. Targeting interleukin-1β may be promising to control episodic refractory erythema nodosum leprosum. Interleukin-12 may be a general marker of active Mycobacterium leprae infection.

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