Phenotypic and functional features of innate and adaptive immunity as putative biomarkers for clinical status and leprosy reactions.
The aim of this study was to identify phenotypic and functional biomarkers associated with distinct clinical status of leprosy or leprosy reactions. The study included tuberculoid/borderline (BB/BT/T) and lepromatous (BL/L) leprosy poles as well as Type-1 and Type-2 leprosy reactions along with healthy controls (NI). A range of peripheral blood biomarkers of innate (neutrophils - NEU and monocytes - MON) and adaptive immunity (CD4 and CD8 T-cells) were evaluated ex vivo and upon in vitro stimuli with M. leprae antigen. Data analysis allowed the selection of NEUTLR4 (ex vivo) and CD4IL-10 (in vitro) as universal biomarkers increased in all leprosy patients and those exhibiting leprosy reactions. A range of biomarkers were commonly found in both poles of leprosy patients, including decreased levels of MONTGF-β (ex vivo) and increased levels of MONTNF-α, CD4TGF-β, CD8TLR2, CD8TNF-α, CD8IL-4 and CD8TGF-β (in vitro). Noteworthy was that MONHLA-DR (ex vivo) and CD8IL-10 (in vitro) were particularly found in BL/L patients. Leprosy patients with Type-1 reaction exhibited a larger list of altered biomarkers, mainly involving activation markers (TLR2, TLR4, HLA-DR and DAF-2T) in NEU and MON along with CD4 and CD8 cells. In summary, this study provided insights about immunological features of leprosy poles and leprosy reactional episodes with putative applicability, including novel biomarkers for complementary diagnosis and future therapeutic approaches in clinical studies.