Evaluation of diagnostic role of in situ PCR on slit-skin smears in pediatric leprosy.Indian J Lepr. 2010 Oct-Dec; 82(4):195-200.IJ
A large proportion of early cases of leprosy in children remain AFB negative in skin smears. Such cases required additional techniques to confirm the diagnosis. In situ PCR on slit- skin smears is minimally invasive and less cumbersome as compared to skin biopsies. This study was initiated in our institute with the objective to evaluate the diagnostic value of in situ PCR on slit- skin smears in pediatric leprosy. A total of 25 cases of leprosy below 16 years of age were included in the study. After detailed history and thorough clinical examination, informed consent was obtained from the parents of children for slit- skin smears from lesion sites for AFB staining and for in situ PCR technique. Cases were clinically categorized according to IAL classification into indeterminate (I), tuberculoid tuberculoid (TT), borderline tuberculoid (BT), borderline borderline (BB), borderline lepromatous (BL) and lepromatous (LL). Most of the patients (76%) were between 9-16 years of age and 64% of the cases had history of contact with leprosy patients within the family. Skin smears were positive for AFB in only 20% of the cases. On applying in situ PCR, it was observed that 62.5% cases of I/TT/BT/BB category and 88.8% of BL/LL category gave positive signals. Overall in situ PCR confirmed the diagnosis in 72% cases while by slit smears diagnosis was confirmed in only 20% of cases. Further, out of 20 skin smear negative cases, 13 were positive by in situ PCR. Specificity of the signals of in situ PCR was established by demonstrating the absence of signals in nonleprosy dermatological conditions of vitiligo and P.alba. This study supports the potential usefulness of in situ PCR on slit- skin smears of early pediatric leprosy cases. This strategy will be especially useful in cases where skin smears are negative and in those cases where skin biopsy can not be done either because of unusual locations of lesions or because of sensitive age of the patients.