Leprosy surveillance study in a highly endemic Brazilian area using leprosy specific serologic tests and IFNγ whole blood assay.
This surveillance study evaluated leprosy-serologic tests and the IFNγ whole-blood-assay/WBA as adjunct diagnostic tools. Previously diagnosed leprosy index cases, intradomiciliary, peridomiciliary contacts from a Brazilian endemic area were enrolled during domiciliary visits. Physical evaluation was performed by trained nurses and leprosy diagnosis confirmed by expert dermatologist. ELISA detected IgM anti-PGL-I, IgG anti-LID-1, and IgM/IgG anti-ND-O-LID antibodies. Heparinized WBA plasma stimulated with LID-1, 46f + LID-1, ML0276 + LID-1 (24 h, 37 °C, 5% CO was tested for human IFNγ (QuantiFERON®-TB Gold/QFT-G; Qiagen). The survey included 1731 participants: 44 leprosy index cases, 64 intradomiciliary, 1623 peridomiciliary contacts. Women represented 57.7%, median age was 32 years, 72.2% had BCG scar. Leprosy prevalence was higher in intradomiciliary (8.57%) versus peridomiciliary contacts (0.67%), p < 0.001. Among 23 suspects, five leprosy cases were confirmed: 4 multibacillary/MB and 1 paucibacillary/PB. Leprosy incidence was 0.30%: 1.56% in intradomiciliary versus 0.25% in peridomiciliary (p = 0.028). Seropositivity rates were 1.9% to PGL-I, 4.9% to LID-1, and 1.0% to ND-O-LID. LID-1 positivity was higher in all groups; incident cases were LID-1 seropositive. ND-O-LID positivity was higher in intra- versus peridomiciliary contacts (p = 0.022). IFNγ WBA (40 index cases, 19 suspects, 35 intradomiciliary, 74 peridomiciliary contacts) showed higher LID-1/WBA positivity in peridomiciliary contacts (p > 0.05); significant differences among groups were seen with 46f + LID-1 but 0276 + LID-1 induced higher IFNγ levels. Incident cases were LID-1 seropositive, while IFNγ-WBA had marginal diagnostic application. As seropositivity indicates exposed individuals at higher risk of disease development, the utility of serologic screening for surveillance and prophylactic measures remains to be demonstrated.