T-cell responses of leprosy patients and healthy contacts toward separated protein antigens of Mycobacterium leprae.Int J Lepr Other Mycobact Dis. 1992 Mar; 60(1):44-53.IJ
Sonicated extracts of Mycobacterium leprae were separated by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis and electroeluted into 400 distinct soluble fractions. These fractions were probed with T lymphocytes from leprosy patients of different disease types, healthy contacts, and unexposed healthy individuals. Proliferative responses were visualized using three-dimensional stimulation profiles. T cells from many patients and contacts responded to a multitude of antigen fractions of different molecular masses and isoelectric points. T cells from unexposed individuals gave significant responses to lysates or whole organisms of M. leprae, but no or only marginal responses to separated antigen fractions. T cells of polar tuberculoid (TT) and the majority of polar lepromatous (LL) leprosy patients responded only to separated antigen fractions but not to lysates or whole organisms of M. leprae. The remaining LL patients were totally unresponsive and even failed to respond to separated M. leprae fractions. Thus, in some leprosy patients unresponsiveness to M. leprae seems to be caused by distinct components and can be broken by using separated antigen fractions; whereas in others, anergy remains. T cells of borderline tuberculoid (BT) patients, who were under chemotherapy, responded to separated antigen fractions as well as to lysates of M. leprae organisms. In contrast, BT patients who were untreated failed to react with any of the M. leprae preparations. Similarly, T cells of the majority of LL patients responding to separated fractions were under chemotherapy; whereas T cells from untreated LL patients gave no or only marginal responses to any of the M. leprae antigen preparations. These findings suggest some linkage between the degree of T-cell responsiveness and antileprosy drug treatment.