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Immunology. 1998 Dec;95(4):529-36.

Lepromatous leprosy patients show T helper 1-like cytokine profile with differential expression of interleukin-10 during type 1 and 2 reactions.

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Department of Biotechnology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India.


Some leprosy patients suffer from clinical episodes associated with tissue damage which are designated as Type 1 (reversal reaction) when localized to the lesions and Type 2 (erythema nodosum leprosum, ENL) when accompanied by systemic involvement. We had reported earlier that stable, non-reaction lepromatous leprosy subjects show T helper 2 (Th2)- and Th0- but not Th1-like responses in the peripheral blood. To further understand the development of Th-like responses during disease, 32 lepromatous patients undergoing reactions were studied using cytokine-specific reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) in peripheral blood and some skin biopsies. Of interest was the evidence of a Th1-like response with presence of interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) and absence of interleukin-4 (IL-4) mRNA in the peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) of 85 and 64% of Type 1 and 2 reaction patients, respectively, and in all reaction sites. Whereas a Th0- was seen in some, a Th2-like response was absent. IL-12p40 mRNA was seen in 21/25 ENL and all Type 1 reaction subjects irrespective of the Th phenotype. IL-12p40 and IFN-gamma were detectable in unstimulated PBMC suggesting an in vivo priming during reactions. IL-10 was mainly associated with adherent cells and showed a differential expression in the two reactions. It was present in the PBMC of ENL but not in reversal reaction patients. Moreover, it was not detectable in the skin lesions of either type of reactions. A Th1-like cytokine profile was associated with immunopathology and persisted up to 6-7 months after the onset of reactions.

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