[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Leprosy is not eradicable with currently available diagnostics or interventions, as evidenced by its stable incidence. Early diagnosis of Mycobacterium leprae infection should therefore be emphasized in leprosy research. It remains challenging to develop tests based on immunological biomarkers that distinguish individuals controlling bacterial replication from those developing disease. To identify biomarkers for field-applicable diagnostics, we determined cytokines/chemokines induced by M. leprae proteins in blood of leprosy patients and endemic controls (EC) from high leprosy-prevalence areas (Bangladesh, Brazil, Ethiopia) and from South Korea, where leprosy is not endemic anymore. M. leprae-sonicate-induced IFN-γ was similar for all groups, excluding M. leprae/IFN-γ as a diagnostic readout. By contrast, ML2478 and ML0840 induced high IFN-γ concentrations in Bangladeshi EC, which were completely absent for South Korean controls. Importantly, ML2478/IFN-γ could indicate distinct degrees of M. leprae exposure, and thereby the risk of infection and transmission, in different parts of Brazilian and Ethiopian cities. Notwithstanding these discriminatory responses, M. leprae proteins did not distinguish patients from EC in one leprosy-endemic area based on IFN-γ. Analyses of additional cytokines/chemokines showed that M. leprae and ML2478 induced significantly higher concentrations of MCP-1, MIP-1β, and IL-1β in patients compared with EC, whereas IFN-inducible protein-10, like IFN-γ, differed between EC from areas with dissimilar leprosy prevalence. This study identifies M. leprae-unique Ags, particularly ML2478, as biomarker tools to measure M. leprae exposure using IFN-γ or IFN-inducible protein-10, and also shows that MCP-1, MIP-1β, and IL-1β can potentially distinguish pathogenic immune responses from those induced during asymptomatic exposure to M. leprae.
The Journal of Immunology 04/2012; 188(10):4782-91. · 5.52 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: During recent years, comparative genomic analysis has allowed the identification of Mycobacterium leprae-specific genes with potential application for the diagnosis of leprosy. In a previous study, 58 synthetic peptides derived from these sequences were tested for their ability to induce production of IFN-γ in PBMC from endemic controls (EC) with unknown exposure to M. leprae, household contacts of leprosy patients and patients, indicating the potential of these synthetic peptides for the diagnosis of sub- or preclinical forms of leprosy. In the present study, the patterns of IFN-γ release of the individuals exposed or non-exposed to M. leprae were compared using an Artificial Neural Network algorithm, and the most promising M. leprae peptides for the identification of exposed people were selected. This subset of M. leprae-specific peptides allowed the differentiation of groups of individuals from sites hyperendemic for leprosy versus those from areas with lower level detection rates. A progressive reduction in the IFN-γ levels in response to the peptides was seen when contacts of multibacillary (MB) patients were compared to other less exposed groups, suggesting a down modulation of IFN-γ production with an increase in bacillary load or exposure to M. leprae. The data generated indicate that an IFN-γ assay based on these peptides applied individually or as a pool can be used as a new tool for predicting the magnitude of M. leprae transmission in a given population.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The stable incidence of new leprosy cases suggests that transmission of infection continues despite worldwide implementation of MDT. Thus, specific tools are needed to diagnose early stage Mycobacterium leprae infection, the likely sources of transmission. M. leprae antigens that induce T-cell responses in M. leprae exposed and/or infected individuals thus are major targets for new diagnostic tools. Previously, we showed that ML1601c was immunogenic in patients and healthy household contacts (HHC). However, some endemic controls (EC) also recognized this protein. To improve the diagnostic potential, IFN-γ responses to ML1601c peptides were assessed using PBMC from Brazilian leprosy patients and EC. Five ML1601c peptides only induced IFN-γ in patients and HHC. Moreover, 24-hour whole-blood assay (WBA), two ML1601c peptides could assess the level of M. leprae exposure in Ethiopian EC. Beside IFN-γ, also IP-10, IL-6, IL-1β, TNF-α, and MCP-1 were increased in EC from areas with high leprosy prevalence in response to these ML1601c peptides. Thus, ML1601c peptides may be useful for differentiating M. leprae exposed or infected individuals and can also be used to indicate the magnitude of M. leprae transmission even in the context of various HLA alleles as present in these different genetic backgrounds.
Journal of Tropical Medicine 01/2012; 2012:132049.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: MHC class I-restricted CD8(+) T cells play an important role in protective immunity against mycobacteria. Previously, we showed that p113-121, derived from Mycobacterium leprae protein ML1419c, induced significant IFN-γ production by CD8(+) T cells in 90% of paucibacillary leprosy patients and in 80% of multibacillary patients' contacts, demonstrating induction of M. leprae-specific CD8(+) T cell immunity. In this work, we studied the in vivo role and functional profile of ML1419c p113-121-induced T cells in HLA-A*0201 transgenic mice. Immunization with 9mer or 30mer covering the p113-121 sequence combined with TLR9 agonist CpG induced HLA-A*0201-restricted, M. leprae-specific CD8(+) T cells as visualized by p113-121/HLA-A*0201 tetramers. Most CD8(+) T cells produced IFN-γ, but distinct IFN-γ(+)/TNF-α(+) populations were detected simultaneously with significant secretion of CXCL10/IFN-γ-induced protein 10, CXCL9/MIG, and VEGF. Strikingly, peptide immunization also induced high ML1419c-specific IgG levels, strongly suggesting that peptide-specific CD8(+) T cells provide help to B cells in vivo, as CD4(+) T cells were undetectable. An additional important characteristic of p113-121-specific CD8(+) T cells was their capacity for in vivo killing of p113-121-labeled, HLA-A*0201(+) splenocytes. The cytotoxic function of p113-121/HLA-A*0201-specific CD8(+) T cells extended into direct killing of splenocytes infected with live Mycobacterium smegmatis expressing ML1419c: both 9mer and 30mer induced CD8(+) T cells that reduced the number of ML1419c-expressing mycobacteria by 95%, whereas no reduction occurred using wild-type M. smegmatis. These data, combined with previous observations in Brazilian cohorts, show that ML1419c p113-121 induces potent CD8(+) T cells that provide protective immunity against M. leprae and B cell help for induction of specific IgG, suggesting its potential use in diagnostics and as a subunit (vaccine) for M. leprae infection.
The Journal of Immunology 06/2011; 187(3):1393-402. · 5.52 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Neuropathy and bone deformities, lifelong sequelae of leprosy that persist after treatment, result in significant impairment to patients and compromise their social rehabilitation. Phosphate-regulating gene with homologies to endopeptidase on the X chromosome (PHEX) is a Zn-metalloendopeptidase, which is abundantly expressed in osteoblasts and many other cell types, such as Schwann cells, and has been implicated in phosphate metabolism and X-linked rickets. Here, we demonstrate that Mycobacterium leprae stimulation downregulates PHEX transcription and protein expression in a human schwannoma cell line (ST88-14) and human osteoblast lineage. Modulation of PHEX expression was observed to a lesser extent in cells stimulated with other species of mycobacteria, but was not observed in cultures treated with latex beads or with the facultative intracellular bacterium Salmonella typhimurium. Direct downregulation of PHEX by M. leprae could be involved in the bone resorption observed in leprosy patients. This is the first report to describe PHEX modulation by an infectious agent.
Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz 08/2010; 105(5):627-32. · 1.36 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A hallmark of LL is the accumulation of Virchow's foamy macrophages. However, the origin and nature of these lipids, as well as their function and contribution to leprosy disease, remain unclear. We herein show that macrophages present in LL dermal lesions are highly positive for ADRP, suggesting that their foamy aspect is at least in part derived from LD (also known as lipid bodies) accumulation induced during ML infection. Indeed, the capacity of ML to induce LD formation was confirmed in vivo via an experimental model of mouse pleurisy and in in vitro studies with human peripheral monocytes and murine peritoneal macrophages. Furthermore, infected cells were shown to propagate LD induction to uninfected, neighboring cells by generating a paracrine signal, for which TLR2 and TLR6 were demonstrated to be essential. However, TLR2 and TLR6 deletions affected LD formation in bacterium-bearing cells only partially, suggesting the involvement of alternative receptors of the innate immune response besides TLR2/6 for ML recognition by macrophages. Finally, a direct correlation between LD formation and PGE(2) production was observed, indicating that ML-induced LDs constitute intracellular sites for eicosanoid synthesis and that foamy cells may be critical regulators in subverting the immune response in leprosy.
Journal of leukocyte biology 12/2009; 87(3):371-84. · 4.99 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The detection of hundreds of thousands of new cases of leprosy every year suggests that transmission of Mycobacterium leprae infection still continues. Unfortunately, tools for identification of asymptomatic disease and/or early-stage M. leprae infection (likely sources of transmission) are lacking. The recent identification of M. leprae-unique genes has allowed the analysis of human T-cell responses to novel M. leprae antigens. Antigens with the most-promising diagnostic potential were tested for their ability to induce cytokine secretion by using peripheral blood mononuclear cells from leprosy patients and controls in five different areas where leprosy is endemic; 246 individuals from Brazil, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Ethiopia were analyzed for gamma interferon responses to five recombinant proteins (ML1989, ML1990, ML2283, ML2346, and ML2567) and 22 synthetic peptides. Of these, the M. leprae-unique protein ML1989 was the most frequently recognized and ML2283 the most specific for M. leprae infection/exposure, as only a limited number of tuberculosis patients responded to this antigen. However, all proteins were recognized by a significant number of controls in areas of endemicity. T-cell responses correlated with in vitro response to M. leprae, suggesting that healthy controls in areas where leprosy is endemic are exposed to M. leprae. Importantly, 50% of the healthy household contacts and 59% of the controls in areas of endemicity had no detectable immunoglobulin M antibodies to M. leprae-specific PGL-I but responded in T-cell assays to >or=1 M. leprae protein. T-cell responses specific for leprosy patients and healthy household contacts were observed for ML2283- and ML0126-derived peptides, indicating that M. leprae peptides hold potential as diagnostic tools. Future work should concentrate on the development of a sensitive and field-friendly assay and identification of additional peptides and proteins that can induce M. leprae-specific T-cell responses.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study reports three cases of an unusual leprotic reaction characterized by superficial bullous ulcerative cutaneous lesions associated with high fever, malaise and oedema in patients with leprosy. Two patients responded to thalidomide treatment, with regression of the symptoms and skin ulcers. The third patient responded to thalidomide plus prednisone. Analysis of the ulcerated skin lesions showed dermal oedema with mononuclear cell infiltrate enriched for gammadelta-positive T lymphocytes and an increased number of Mycobaterium leprae bacilli within capillary endothelium. In contrast, gammadelta+ cells were decreased in or absent from the blood. Tumour necrosis factor-alpha and interleukin-6 were raised in the serum of the patients at the onset of the reaction. After the episode, cytokine levels and the percentage of gammadelta+ cells in the blood returned to normal. These cases characterize an uncommon leprotic reaction with clinical similarities to type II reaction and may indicate a significant role for gammadelta+ T cells in its pathogenesis.
Clinical and Experimental Dermatology 06/2008; 33(3):294-7. · 1.33 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: There are no reliable means for detecting subclinical mycobacterial infections. The recent sequencing of several mycobacterial genomes has now afforded new opportunities for the development of pathogen-specific diagnostic tests, critical in the context of leprosy and tuberculosis control. In the present study, we applied a multi-parametric flow cytometric analysis that allowed the investigation of T-cell functions in order to define immunological markers that measure previous exposure to mycobacteria. We compared the in vivo response to PPD, the gold standard skin test reagent for measuring previous exposure to Mycobacterium tuberculosis, with in vitro parameters of leukocyte activation in five PPD positive and five PPD negative healthy volunteers. PPD-stimulated peripheral leukocytes expressing CD4, CD69, cutaneous lymphocyte-associated antigen (CLA) and intracellular IFN-gamma were enumerated in whole blood and compared with the size of in vivo PPD-induced induration and IFN-gamma production levels as measured by ELISA in supernatants of PPD-stimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells. The reactivity to the tuberculin skin test (TST) was associated with markedly increased frequencies of PPD-responsive activated (CD69+) and IFN-gamma-producing CD4+T cells. Detection of PPD-specific IFN-gamma producing leukocytes was restricted to CD4+T cells and a subset of these cells was shown to express the skin homing molecule CLA. Multiple linear regression modeling of responses to PPD showed the highest association between skin test indurations and frequencies of PPD-responsive IFN-gamma-producing CD4+CD69+ T cells. Our data show that the in vitro enumeration of antigen-specific IFN-gamma-producing CD4+ T cells can provide an alternative to the in vivo tuberculin test for the detection of latent Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection. Moreover, the measurement of these immunological parameters can be useful for the screening of new specific antigens defined by the genome sequence allowing selection of the best candidates for new diagnostics (including new skin tests), and vaccines for leprosy and tuberculosis.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Diagnosis of leprosy is a major obstacle to disease control and has been compromised in the past due to the lack of specific reagents. We have used comparative genome analysis to identify genes that are specific to Mycobacterium leprae and tested both recombinant proteins and synthetic peptides from a subset of these for immunological reactivity. Four unique recombinant proteins (ML0008, ML0126, ML1057, and ML2567) and a panel of 58 peptides (15 and 9 mer) were tested for IFN-gamma responses in PBMC from leprosy patients and contacts, tuberculosis patients, and endemic and nonendemic controls. The responses to the four recombinant proteins gave higher levels of IFN-gamma production, but less specificity, than the peptides. Thirty-five peptides showed IFN-gamma responses only in the paucibacillary leprosy and household contact groups, with no responses in the tuberculosis or endemic control groups. High frequencies of IFN-gamma-producing CD4+ and CD8+ T cells specific for the 15- and 9-mer peptides were observed in the blood of a paucibacillary leprosy patient. 9-mer peptides preferentially activated CD8+ T cells, while the 15-mer peptides were efficient in inducing responses in both the CD4+ and CD8+ T cell subsets. Four of the six 9-mer peptides tested showed promising specificity, indicating that CD8+ T cell epitopes may also have diagnostic potential. Those peptides that provide specific responses in leprosy patients from an endemic setting could potentially be developed into a rapid diagnostic test for the early detection of M. leprae infection and epidemiological surveys of the incidence of leprosy, of which little is known.
The Journal of Immunology 01/2006; 175(12):7930-8. · 5.52 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: It has been shown that bacterial exoproducts may induce airway epithelium injury. During the epithelial repair process, the respiratory epithelial cells no more establish tight junctional intercellular complexes and may be particularly susceptible to bacterial virulence factors. In this study, we analyzed the effect of Pseudomonas aeruginosa exotoxin A (ETA) at different periods of time and concentrations on 16 HBE 14o(-) human bronchial epithelial cells in culture conditions inducing a phenotype of repairing cells. ETA treatment for 24 and 48 h led to the killing of 40.0 +/- 5.7% and 79.0 +/- 1.4% of the cells, respectively, as determined by the dimethylthiazole 2,5 diphenyl tetrazolium bromide assay. At 1,000 ng/ml, ETA led to the killing of 25.2 +/- 6.6, 59.4 +/- 5.9, and 82.3 +/- 3.7% of the cells, after treatment periods of 7, 24, and 48 h, respectively. Cell death could not be inhibited by z-VAD-fmk, a broad spectrum caspase inhibitor. By transmission electron microscopy, ultrastructural characteristics described in apoptosis were not detected in ETA-treated cells. Instead, the mitochondria of cells treated for 24 and 48 h with ETA at 100 and 1,000 ng/ml were highly condensed. Human nasal polyp epithelial cells in primary culture exposed to ETA at 1,000 ng/ml did not exhibit characteristic features of apoptotic cells either. Cytofluorometric analysis of ETA-treated 16 HBE 14o(-) cells labeled with DiOC(6)(3) and hydroethidine showed a time- and dose-dependent reduction of the mitochondrial transmembrane potential, detected 7 h after ETA treatment, and an increase in superoxide production, detected at 24 h, respectively. By a photometric assay, DNA degradation was also detected 7 h after cell treatment with ETA at 100 and 1,000 ng/ml. Taken together, our results show that ETA-induced death of epithelial respiratory cells was preceded by early mitochondrial dysfunction and superoxide anion production, but was not followed by the classically described apoptotic pathways.
American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology 06/2002; 26(5):617-26. · 4.15 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Pseudomonas aeruginosa has been shown to enter into human endothelial cells in vitro. To ascertain the effects of bacterial intracellular (IC) infection, endothelial cells were exposed to PAK and PAO-1 strains for 1 h and treated with gentamicin in culture medium for different periods. P. aeruginosa induced a significant production of superoxide and hydrogen peroxide by endothelial cells. Concentrations of IC bacteria were reduced progressively with time and no viable PAO-1 was detected at 24 h after infection. However, IC infection led to killing of 32.2%+/-2.9 and 51.8%+/-3.5 of the cells infected with PAK and PAO-1, respectively, as determined by the MTT assay. By three criteria (transmission electron microscopy, DNA electrophoresis and reactivity with annexin V) infected cells exhibited features of apoptosis. Treatment of infected cells with anti-oxidants (catalase, tocopherol and N -acetyl-L-cysteine) significantly decreased the percentage of cell death. In contrast, treatment with aminoguanidine, an inhibitor of inducible NO synthase, increased significantly the killing of PAO-1 infected cells. Based on these results we speculate that in response to P. aeruginosa infection, endothelial cells increase the production of reactive oxygen intermediates to eliminate IC pathogens, but cells do not resist the oxidative stress and die by apoptosis.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The in vitro production of interferon (IFN)-gamma, interleukin (IL)-5, tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha and IL-10 by blood mononuclear cells in response to whole Mycobacterium leprae and polyclonal stimulii of 23 individuals, representing a variety of conditions in relation to exposure/susceptibility to M. leprae, was assayed. In most cases, healthy household contacts of newly diagnosed multibacillary leprosy patients, designated exposed household contacts (EC), showed low-to-undetectable in vitro IFN-gamma production in addition to substantial TNF-alpha production in response to M. leprae. In contrast, peripheral blood mononuclear cells from previously exposed contacts (R) regarded as resistant-to-leprosy released low-to-moderate levels of IFN-gamma together with a mixed cytokine profile resembling a T helper (Th)0-type response. TNF-alpha/IL-10 ratios in response to M. leprae and Concanavalin A were significantly higher in EC than in R contacts suggesting a role for the TNF-alpha/IL-10 ratio in restraining mycobacteria proliferation and spreading early in infection. The cytokine profiles of leprosy patients were taken as reference points. Post-treatment lepromatous leprosy patients secreted relatively high levels of IL-10 in response to M. leprae, whereas one self-cured tuberculoid leprosy patient produced simultaneously high levels of IFN-gamma and TNF-alpha. In addition, the quantitative changes in the cytokines released by peripheral blood mononuclear cells in EC contacts after Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination were investigated. Vaccination induced amplification of IFN-gamma production with a concomitant decrease in TNF-alpha/IL-10 ratios that resembled the cytokine pattern observed in R contacts. IFN-gamma production was observed in response to both a cross-reactive antigen (Ag 85) and a M. leprae-specific protein (MMP-I), which attests to a BCG nonspecific stimulation of the immune system, thereby casting these antigens as likely candidates for inclusion in a subunit vaccine against leprosy. Finally, a model for protective x pathologic response to mycobacteria is presented.
Scandinavian Journal of Immunology 05/2000; 51(4):419-28. · 2.20 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The immune responses to Mycobacterium leprae and other mycobacterial antigens were studied in 11 leprosy patients with concurrent human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection. Three patients manifested borderline lepromatous leprosy, and eight patients had borderline tuberculoid (BT) leprosy. Despite the low CD4+ T-cell count in the peripheral blood, no histologic or phenotypic change in the cellular infiltrate in either the lepromatous or tuberculoid lesions was observed when compared with HIV-1-negative patients. Lepromatous lesions contained heavily parasitized macrophages and few CD8+ T cells. Lesions from the patients with BT leprosy showed extensive CD4+ T-cell infiltration despite a significant reduction in CD4+ T-cell counts in the peripheral blood. No acid-fast bacilli were detected in the tuberculoid lesions. HIV-1 infection did not alter the lack of response in lepromatous leprosy to M. leprae antigens either in vitro or in vivo. In contrast, the skin test response to M. leprae antigens as well as the in vitro lymphoproliferative responses to mycobacterial antigens that are usually seen in patients with tuberculoid leprosy were abrogated in the BT HIV-1+ patients. However, production of gamma interferon in response to the same stimuli was preserved in most of the patients. Analysis of cytokine gene expression showed activation of additional cytokine genes in the unstimulated peripheral blood cells of patients with both leprosy and HIV-1 infections as compared with cells from patients with leprosy alone. These results suggest that granuloma formation in leprosy can be independent of the impaired CD4+ T-cell response of the HIV-1 infection. Furthermore, in HIV-1+ individuals with M. leprae infection, activation of cytokine genes is observed even when the circulating CD4+ T-cell count is significantly reduced.
Infection and Immunity 06/1995; 63(5):1848-54. · 4.07 Impact Factor