Increased chitotriosidase activity in serum of leprosy patients: association with bacillary leprosy.Clin Immunol. 2009 Jun; 131(3):501-9.CI
Human phagocyte-specific chitotriosidase is associated with several diseases involving macrophage activation. Since macrophage activation plays an important role in the control of Mycobacterium leprae infection, we studied the association of chitotriosidase with leprosy both in serum and in situ in lesional skin biopsies from patients. Serum samples from 78 Indonesian leprosy patients (39 non-reactional and 39 reactional leprosy patients) and 36 healthy controls (HC) from the same endemic region were investigated. The patients were classified as multibacillary (MB, n=69) or paucibacillary (PB, n=9) based on the bacterial index in slit-skin smears. Thirty-six of the reactional patients had erythema nodosum leprosum (ENL), while only 3 had reversal reaction (RR). Follow-up serum samples after corticosteroid treatment were also obtained from 17 patients with ENL and one with RR. Multibacillary (MB) patients showed increased chitotriosidase activity in serum as compared to paucibacillary (PB) patients and healthy controls. Although no significant difference was observed between reactional and the corresponding non-reactional groups, ENL showed significantly higher chitotriosidase activity as compared to HC. Furthermore, corticosteroid treatment resulted in significant decline of enzyme activity in ENL sera. Chitotriosidase activity correlated with levels of neopterin, another macrophage activation marker, but not with IL-6, IFN-gamma, TNF-alpha and IL-10. Immunohistochemical staining of 6 MB (LL=5, BL=1) lesional skin sections from stored material showed positive staining for chitotriosidase within lipid-laden macrophages suggesting that macrophages are the source of the enzyme detected in serum. Thus, serum chitotriosidase activity is potentially useful in distinguishing MB from PB leprosy and in monitoring response to therapy in ENL.