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Heterogeneous persistence of Mycobacterium leprae in oral and nasal mucosa of multibacillary patients during multidrug therapy



Leprosy is curable by multidrug therapy (MDT) treatment regimen ranging from six to 12 months. The variable levels of tolerance and adherence among patients can, however, result in treatment failure and the emergence of drug-resistant strains.


Describe the impact of MDT over Mycobacterium leprae viability in patient’s oral and nasal mucosa along treatment.


Mycobacterium leprae viability was monitored by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) quantification of 16S rRNA in lateral and contralateral scrapings of oral and nasal mucosa of 10 multibacillary patients along the initial five months of treatment.


The results demonstrated high heterogenicity of M. leprae viability among patients and between nasal and oral samples. Of six patients who presented good adherence and tolerance to the treatment, only four displayed absence of M. leprae viability in both samples three months after the first MDT dose, while for the other two, the absence of M. leprae viability in the oral and nasal cavities was only detected five months after the first dose.


We concluded that qPCR of 16S rRNA for the determination of M. leprae viability in nasal and oral scraping samples could represent an interesting approach to monitor treatment efficacy.

More information

Journal Article
Neumann ADS
Fontes ANB
Lopes MQP
Suffys PN
Moraes MO
Lara FA