Antibody response to phenolic glycolipid I and Mycobacterium w antigens and its relation to bacterial load in M. leprae-infected mice and leprosy patients.Clin Exp Immunol. 1989 Nov; 78(2):214-8.CE
Twenty-six inbred BALB/cBy mice were infected with live Mycobacterium leprae by injecting 6 x 10(3) bacilli in the hind footpad. Bleeds were collected at monthly intervals. After 6 months, acid-fast bacilli (AFB) were harvested monthly from the footpad of mice. The sera were analysed in enzyme immunoassay for antibodies against phenolic glycolipid I (PGL-I) of M. leprae and antigens of Mycobacterium w (M. w); 21 out of 26 (80.7%) mice demonstrated the presence of antibodies against PGL-I and M. w . Anti-M. w antibodies appeared slightly earlier than did anti-PGL-I antibodies. The titre of anti-M. w antibodies was higher than that of anti-PGL-I antibodies. The mice giving a positive antibody response had more than 7 x 10(5) AFB/footpad. The coefficient of correlation (r) between the number of AFB and antibody titres at the time of harvest was 0.566 for PGL-I and 0.628 for M. w. The value of r for bacterial index and antibody titres in 188 leprosy patients was 0.510 for PGL-I and 0.418 for M. w; these values were statistically significant (P < 0.001). The decrease in bacterial index and antibody titres in treated lepromatous leprosy patients correlated with increase in the duration of chemotherapy. The measurement of anti-PGL-I antibodies of IgM class may serve as an adjunct to skin biopsy and skin-slit smear for serial monitoring of the bacterial load in the course of chemotherapy in leprosy control programmes.