Sequential erythema nodosum leprosum and reversal reaction with similar lesional cytokine mRNA patterns in a borderline leprosy patient

Leprosy Laboratory, Oswaldo Cruz Institute, FIOCRUZ, Av. Brasil 4365, Manguinhos, Rio de Janeiro, RJ 21045-900, Brazil.
British Journal of Dermatology (Impact Factor: 4.1). 02/2001; 144(1):175-81. DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-2133.2001.03970.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT We compare the clinical and histological data with the immunological status of a borderline leprosy patient who experienced an erythema nodosum leprosum (ENL) reaction followed by a reversal reaction (RR) after 12 weeks of anti-inflammatory treatment (pentoxifylline, PTX, 1200 mg daily). Skin biopsies, serum and blood samples were collected sequentially during the reactional episodes. At the outset of RR, the patient's lymphocytes secreted interferon (IFN) -gamma and there was a positive lymphoproliferative test in response to Mycobacterium leprae, which had been absent during ENL. The lepromin reaction reversed from negative (0 mm) at diagnosis, to positive (3 mm) 3 months after the development of RR. Tumour necrosis factor (TNF) -alpha levels in the serum decreased after 1 week of treatment and increased slightly thereafter. The immunohistochemical data for ENL showed a diffuse dermal and hypodermal infiltrate composed of mononuclear cells and neutrophils, while RR was characterized by an epithelioid granulomatous infiltrate with a marked presence of gammadelta T cells. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction showed a mixed cytokine profile characterized by the expression of TNF-alpha, IFN-gamma, interleukin (IL) -6, IL-10 and IL-12 mRNA in the skin, which persisted throughout the development of ENL and RR lesions. IL-4 mRNA, first detected after 7 days of PTX treatment, was still present during RR. The results suggest the emergence of an initial Th0-like cytokine profile in ENL, typical of a state of immunoactivation, before conditions optimal for the appearance of an antigen-specific cell-mediated immune response and gammadelta T-cell migration are created.

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