Frequencies of MICA alleles in patients from southern Brazil with multibacillary and paucibacillary leprosy.
Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae, which mainly affects the skin and nervous system. The disease has several clinical forms. This study investigated the MICA and HLA-B genes in 223 samples from leprosy patients and 201 samples from healthy individuals matched for age, gender and ethnical background. Of the patients, 153 had multibacillary, 45 paucibacillary and 25 indeterminate leprosy. The aim of this case-control study was to assess whether the MICA alleles influence susceptibility for leprosy or affect the subtype of the disease in a population of southern Brazil. There were significant differences in frequencies of the MICA*027 allele (4.7% vs 1.8%, P-value = 0.01, OR = 0.37; 95% CI = 0.16-0.85) between leprosy patients and controls, and of the MICA*010 (4.5% vs 1.6%, P-value = 0.05, OR = 0.35, 95% CI = 0.13-0.97) and MICA*027 alleles (4.7% vs 1.3%, P-value = 0.01; OR = 0.27; 95% CI = 0.09-0.79) between multibacillary leprosy patients and the control group. There were no significant differences in the frequency of MICA alleles between paucibacillary leprosy patients and controls. Thus, the MICA*027 allele is associated with a protective effect for leprosy per se, while the MICA*010 and MICA*027 alleles are associated with protection against multibacillary leprosy, the most severe clinical subtype.