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Exp Dermatol. 2015 Mar;24(3):232-4. doi: 10.1111/exd.12635.

Decreased presence of Langerhans cells is a critical determinant for Indian Post kala-azar dermal leishmaniasis.

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Department of Pharmacology, Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, Kolkata, India.


Post kala-azar dermal leishmaniasis (PKDL) is the dermal sequel of visceral leishmaniasis (VL) and occurs after apparent cure or alongside with VL. It is confined to South Asia (India, Nepal and Bangladesh) and East Africa (mainly Sudan), the incidence being 5-10% and 50-60% respectively. In South Asia, as the transmission of VL is anthroponotic, PKDL patients are the proposed disease reservoir, thus assuming epidemiological significance, its eradication being linked to the control of leishmaniasis. In the absence of an animal model and its low incidence, factors contributing towards the immunopathogenesis of PKDL remain an open-ended, yet pertinent question. This study delineated the lesional immunopathology in terms of granuloma formation, Langerhans cells, tissue macrophages along with mRNA expression of IL-12p40 and IL-10. Our study in Indian PKDL for the first time identified that the number of CD1a(+) /CD207(+) Langerhans cells are decreased and CD68(+) macrophages are increased along with the absence of an epitheloid granuloma. Importantly, this decrease in Langerhans cells was associated with decreased mRNA expression of IL-12p40 and increased IL-10. This was reverted with treatment allowing for elimination of parasites and disease resolution along with an increase in Langerhans cells and decrease in macrophages. Thus, in Indian PKDL, absence of a granuloma formation along with a decrease in Langerhans cells collectively caused immune inactivation essential for parasite persistence and disease sustenance.


Langerhans cells; Post kala-azar dermal leishmaniasis; granuloma; tissue macrophages

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