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Unveiling the role of NK cells, NKT-like cells, and γδ cells in pathogenesis of type 1 reactions in leprosy


Leprosy is a disease with spectral clinical manifestations along with two types of reactions, type 1 reaction (T1R) and type 2 reaction (T2R). T1R especially occurs because of the defensive upgradation of cell-mediated immunity (CMI) to M. leprae antigens. T1R is the main cause of disability in leprosy. The role of conventional adaptive T cells has been well studied to understand T1R. A comprehensive understanding of the role of unconventional T cells in the manifestation of inflammation during T1R is crucial and has not been studied. In our study, we found significantly higher plasma levels of TNFα, IL1β, IL17, and IP10 in T1R when compared to non-reaction (NR). Gene expression for cytokines in blood circulation by qPCR showed significantly higher expression of IFNγ, IP10, TNFα, IL6, IL17A and chemokines CCL3, CCR1, CCR5, and CXCR3 in T1R as compared to NR. Frequencies of NKT-like cells (48.7 %) and NK cells (22.3 %) were found significantly higher in T1R in comparison to NR (36.9 %, 18.3 %, respectively) (p = 0.0001). Significantly lower levels of γδT cells (3.32 %) were observed in T1R in comparison to NR (5.16 %). The present study has provided evidence for the first time on the role of plausible unconventional T cells in the immunopathogenesis of T1R in leprosy.

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Journal Article
Pathak VK
Singh I
Sharma B
Turankar RP
Arora M
Singh SV
Sengupta U