In situ demonstration of Mycobacterium leprae antigens in leprosy lesions using monoclonal antibodies.
Cryostat sections of skin and nerve lesions of leprosy were stained with monoclonal antibodies recognising Mycobacterium leprae antigens and indirect immunofluorescence. In both the tuberculoid and lepromatous lesions, PGL1, 55-65-kDa, 17-kDa protein antigens and cross-reactive non-protein antigens were present. 65-kDa antigens were seen mainly in the skin lesions of lepromatous leprosy. The infiltrates in both the skin and nerve granulomas of tuberculoid and lepromatous leprosy showed membranous staining with monoclonal antibodies recognising PGL1 and 55-65-kDa antigens. Bacilli in the lesions and the cells in the lymph node granulomas of patients with tuberculosis or the infiltrates in the lesions of tinea corporis or sections of normal skin did not show any staining with these monoclonal antibodies. These results confirm that M. leprae antigens are present and are expressed on the infiltrating cells of leprosy lesions.