Mycobacterium leprae-induced alterations in macrophage Fc receptor expression and monocyte-lymphocyte interaction in familial contacts of leprosy patients.
Macrophage Fc receptor expression and monocyte-lymphocyte interaction in the presence of Mycobacterium leprae were examined in familial contacts of leprosy patients. Defective M phi functions similar to those of borderline and lepromatous patients could be observed in approximately 71% of consanguineous contacts and 43% of spouses of index patients. Although the values in the latter group were markedly lower than those of the consanguineous contacts, they tended to be higher than those of normal individuals (20%). These in vitro M phi functions were independent of age, sex, and age at onset of exposure and were only weakly associated with duration of exposure. The outcome of the monocyte-lymphocyte interaction test paralleled to a large extent the in vivo Mitsuda lepromin response. Four contacts with defective M phi functions also showed signs of leprosy. The value of these in vitro tests as markers of 'susceptibility' could therefore prove significant.