Nasal mucosa and skin of smear-positive leprosy patients after 24 months of fixed duration MDT: histopathological and microbiological study.Int J Lepr Other Mycobact Dis. 1999 Sep; 67(3):292-7.IJ
The skin and nasal mucosa of 10 lepromatous leprosy patients who had completed 24 doses of fixed duration multidrug therapy (MDT) but who continued to be skin-smear positive for acid-fast bacilli (AFB) were examined histopathologically. The nasal mucosa showed granuloma fractions that exceeded those seen in the skin specimens, signifying that activity in this region subsides much more gradually than the activity in the skin. Mouse foot pad studies done using T900r mice with an inoculum from the nasal mucosa biopsy specimens of these patients did not demonstrate any growth of Mycobacterium leprae, indicating that these bacilli were not viable. A skin specimen from one patient grew significant amounts of bacteria in the T900r mouse foot pad. These results show that 2 years of treatment with MDT would prevent dissemination of M. leprae from the nasal mucosa and, therefore, should preclude further transmission of the disease. It also indicates that viable bacteria might persist in the skin of patients, especially those with an initial bacterial index of > or = 4+ who have completed 24 doses of regular MDT. Therefore, a more cautious approach to administering only 12 doses of MDT to highly positive multibacillary patients is suggested.