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Serum uric acid levels during leprosy reaction episodes.


Background. Leprosy reactions are acute inflammatory episodes that occur mainly in the multibacillary forms of the disease. The reactions are classified as type 1 (reverse reaction) or type 2 (erythema nodosum leprosum). Leprosy-associated oxidative stress has been widely demonstrated. Several recent studies have shown uric acid (UA) to have antioxidative effects under pathologic conditions. The objective of this study was to assess serum levels of UA in patients with leprosy reactions, with the aim of monitoring their levels before and after treatment, compared with levels in leprosy patients without reactions. Methods. The study included patients aged 18-69 years assisted at a leprosy treatment reference center in the Central Region of Brazil. Patients who were pregnant; were using immunosuppressant drugs or immunobiologicals; or had an autoimmune disease, human immunodeficiency virus infection, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or tuberculosis were excluded. Upon recruitment, all individuals were clinically assessed for skin lesions and neural or systemic impairment. Some patients had already completed treatment for leprosy, while others were still undergoing treatment or had initiated treatment after being admitted. The treatment of the reactional episode was started only after the initial evaluation. Laboratory assessments were performed upon admission (baseline) and at approximately 30 and 60 days (time points 1 and 2, respectively). Results. A total of 123 leprosy patients were recruited between June 2012 and June 2015; among them, 56, 42, and 25 presented with type 1, type 2, and no reactions, respectively. Serum UA levels were significantly reduced in patients with type 2 leprosy reactions compared with patients in the control group and remained lower in the two subsequent assessments, after initiation of anti-reaction treatments, with similar values to those recorded before the treatment. Discussion. The decreased serum UA levels in patients with type 2 leprosy reactions might be due to the consumption of UA to neutralize the enhanced production of oxygen- and nitrogen-reactive species that occurs during type 2 reactions. The maintenance of the reduced levels in the follow-up assessments may indicate persistence of oxidative stress in the initial post-treatment stages, despite improved clinical conditions. The results of this study suggest that serum UA may play an antioxidative role during type 2 leprosy reactions.

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Journal Article
Morato-Conceicao YT
Alves-Junior ER
Arruda TA
Lopes JC
Fontes CJ F