Evaluation of Immunodiagnostic Tests for Leprosy in Brazil, China and Ethiopia.
Leprosy remains persistently endemic in several low- or middle income countries. Transmission is still ongoing as indicated by the unabated rate of leprosy new case detection, illustrating the insufficiency of current prevention methods. Therefore, low-complexity tools suitable for large scale screening efforts to specifically detect M. leprae infection and diagnose disease are required. Previously, we showed that combined detection of cellular and humoral markers, using field-friendly lateral flow assays (LFAs), increased diagnostic potential for detecting leprosy in Bangladesh compared to antibody serology alone. In the current study we assessed the diagnostic performance of similar LFAs in three other geographical settings in Asia, Africa and South-America with different leprosy endemicity. Levels of anti-PGL-I IgM antibody (humoral immunity), IP-10, CCL4 and CRP (cellular immunity) were measured in blood collected from leprosy patients, household contacts and healthy controls from each area. Combined detection of these biomarkers significantly improved the diagnostic potential, particularly for paucibacillary leprosy in all three regions, in line with data obtained in Bangladesh. These data hold promise for the use of low-complexity, multibiomarker LFAs as universal tools for more accurate detection of M. leprae infection and different phenotypes of clinical leprosy.