Serodiagnosis of leprosy: relationships between antibodies to Mycobacterium leprae phenolic glycolipid I and protein antigens.J Clin Microbiol. 1986 Dec; 24(6):917-21.JC
Sera from leprosy patients and controls were assayed for immunoglobulin M (IgM) and IgG antibodies to the Mycobacterium leprae-specific phenolic glycolipid I antigen (PG) by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, for IgG antibodies to M. leprae protein antigens by Western immunoblot, and for antibodies to a 65-kilodalton (kDa) protein antigen of M. leprae by a competition antibody binding assay. Elevated levels of anti-PG IgM were seen in lepromatous and borderline lepromatous patients, and elevated levels of anti-PG IgG were seen in borderline lepromatous patients. There was a significant correlation between the bacillary index (BI) and anti-PG IgM whether all leprosy patients or only multibacillary patients were analyzed. A significant correlation was seen between anti-PG IgG and BI when all leprosy patients were used for analysis, but not when only multibacillary patients were used. IgG antibodies to protein antigens of M. leprae, as detected by Western immunoblot, were more prevalent in lepromatous and borderline lepromatous patients than in borderline tuberculoid patients, while one of eight controls showed one weak band. There were significant correlations between the number of M. leprae protein antigens detected by the sera of patients and both BI and the level of anti-PG IgM. The 65-kDa competition antibody binding assay detected active multibacillary leprosy. Patients positive for antibody to the 65-kDa antigen had a significantly higher BI and levels of anti-PG IgM and anti-PG IgG than did patients that were negative. In addition, the level of antibody to the 65-kDa antigen correlated with both the BI and anti-PG IgM. We conclude that testing for antibodies to protein antigens of M. leprae may provide a useful adjunct to testing for antibodies to PG.