TUNEL and limited immunophenotypic analyses of apoptosis in paucibacillary and multibacillary leprosy lesions
Walsh, D.S.; Lane, J.E.; Abalos, R.M.; Myint, K.S.A.
Fems Immunology and Medical Microbiology 41(3): 265-269
ISSN/ISBN: 0928-8244 PMID: 15196577 DOI: 10.1016/j.femsim.2004.04.002
Some mycobacterial infections, such as tuberculosis, are characterized by apoptosis of infected or by-stander mononuclear immune cells. For localized (paucibacillary, PB) and disseminated (multibacillary, MB) leprosy, characterized by polarized Th1-like vs. Th2-like immune responses, respectively, little is known about lesional apoptosis. We analyzed sections of paraffin-embedded, untreated leprosy lesions from 21 patients by an indirect immunofluorescent terminal deoxynucleotide-transferase-mediated dUTP-digoxigenin nick end labeling (TUNEL) assay. Some TUNEL (+) PB sections were then reacted with phycoerythrin-conjugated (red) antibodies against T cells, monocytes, or antigen-presenting (Langerhans) cells. TUNEL (+) bodies were detected in 9 of 16 PB lesions (56%) and in 1 of 5 MB lesions (20%). Some TUNEL (+) bodies in PB disease were CD3+ (T cell), as well as CD4+ (T-helper) or CD8+ (T-cytotoxic). Apoptosis characterizes PB and MB leprosy lesions and may be more frequent in PB disease. In PB disease, some TUNEL (+) bodies may derive from T cells.