Whole blood profiling of leprosy type 1(reversal) reactions highlights prominence of innate immune response genes.
BACKGROUND: The major factors contributing for nerve damage and permanent disabilities in leprosy are type 1 or reversal reactions (RR) and type 2 or erythema nodosum leprosum (ENL). Gene profiling of leprosy reactions have shown that different pathways are activated during the course of reactions, which is consistent with the exacerbated immune response exhibited by these patients.
METHODS: We used qPCR to screen a panel of 90 genes related to the immune response in leprosy in RNA-derived peripheral leukocytes of patients with (N = 94) and without leprosy reactions (N = 57) in order to define expression signatures correlated to RR or ENL.
RESULTS: Our results show that there is a marked signature for RR in the blood, comprising genes mostly related to the innate immune responses, including type I IFN components, autophagy, parkins and Toll like receptors. On the other hand, only Parkin was differentially expressed in the ENL group.
CONCLUSIONS: The data put together corroborates previous work that brings evidence that an acute uncontrolled exacerbated immune response designed to contain the spread of M. leprae antigens might be cause of RR pathogenesis. Identifying a blood profile useful to predict leprosy reactions prior to its development might help to reduce the morbidity associated to this disabling disease.