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Scand J Immunol. 1993 Aug;38(2):167-76.

T-cell stimulation with purified mycobacterial antigens in patients and healthy subjects infected with Mycobacterium leprae: secreted antigen 85 is another immunodominant antigen.

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1
Immunologie Cellulaire, Institut Pasteur de Dakar, Sénégal.

Abstract

Peripheral blood leucocytes from 9 paucibacillary and 12 multibacillary leprosy patients, from 18 healthy controls and from 34 healthy leprosy contacts were stimulated with three mycobacterial heat shock proteins with respective molecular weights of 70, 65 and 18 kDa and with the secreted 30-32 kDa protein, also called antigen 85. Antigen 85 was found to be the most powerful T-cell antigen (as measured by lymphoproliferation and IFN-gamma secretion), eliciting a positive response in all (100%) paucibacillary patients and in all lepromin-positive controls and contacts. The three heat shock proteins (hsp) were less active T-cell stimuli. Reactivity to the 70 kDa hsp was found in only 44% of the paucibacillary patients, in 80% of the lepromin-positive controls and in 60% of the lepromin-positive leprosy contacts. The 65 kDa hsp stimulated T cells in 89% of the paucibacillary patients and in 80% of the lepromin-positive controls and contacts. Responsiveness to the 18 kDa hsp, finally, was clearly more frequent in tuberculoid leprosy patients (78%) than in lepromin-positive controls (40%) or lepromin-positive leprosy contacts (4%). T-cell reactivity of 8 lepromin-negative controls, of 9 lepromin-negative contacts and of 12 multibacillary leprosy patients was low to all the antigens tested. Although proliferative and IFN-gamma responses were generally closely related, some subjects demonstrated a dissociation of these two immune parameters. Our data confirm previous findings on the powerful T-cell stimulatory properties of antigen 85 during M. leprae infection and suggest that this antigen is indeed a potentially protective T-cell immunogen.

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