Detection of Mycobacterium lepromatosis in patients with leprosy in India
Introduction: The most commonly noted reactions in leprosy patients are type 1 reactions and erythema nodosum leprosum, with some rare phenomenon of host response known as Lucio phenomenon or leprosy of Lucio and Latapi which is caused by Mycobacterium lepromatosis. So far, no case of M. lepromatosis has been reported from India.
Materials and methods: The main objective of this study was to detect any positive cases of M. lepromatosis in India with such a complication. We screened slit skin smear/biopsy samples from lepromatous leprosy (LL) patients reporting to The Leprosy Mission Community Hospitals across the country. Eighty-eight slit skin smears were collected from leprosy patients in 70% ethanol. DNA was extracted from all these samples. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was done for 2 genes; one set was for 16S rRNA and the other set was for coproporphyrinogen III oxidase (hemN) gene. Then, sequencing was done for all positive amplicons. Homology of the sequences was analyzed using the Basic Local Alignment Search Tool at the National Center of Biotechnology Information database.
Results: Among 88 isolates, we found 4 positive cases for M. lepromatosis. All 4 were LL cases with a bacteriological index ranging from 2+ to 4+. On the basis of the National Center of Biotechnology Information Basic Local Alignment Search Tool analysis, the sequenced amplicons of both genes matched with the M. lepromatosis 16S rRNA and phosphofructokinase genes but not with hemN gene of lepromatosis. This is the first report for the presence of M. lepromatosis in LL cases from India.
Conclusion: This new species M. lepromatosis exists beyond Mexico, Singapore and it is the cause of DLL in India also. It may cause dual infections along with M. leprae in endemic areas like India.