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The Cutaneous Infiltrates of Leprosy — Cellular Characteristics and the Predominant T-Cell Phenotypes

  • Van Voorhis, Wesley C
  • Kaplan, Gilla
  • Sarno, Euzenir Nunes
  • Horwitz, Marcus A
  • Steinman, Ralph M
  • Levis, William R
  • Nogueira, Nadia
  • Hair, Laura S
  • Gattass, Cerli Rocha
  • Arrick, Bradley A
  • Cohn, Zanvil A
Publication Date
Dec 23, 1982
eScholarship - University of California
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We report on the characteristics of cells in the cutaneous lesions and blood of 21 patients with lepromatous, tuberculoid, and intermediate forms of leprosy. A large proportion of the infiltrates in lepromatous lesions consist of macrophages heavily parasitized with Mycobacterium leprae. The T cells in the lesions are devoid of OKT4/Leu 3a-positive ("helper") cells and consist almost exclusively of OKT8/Leu 2a-positive ("suppressor") populations. In contrast, the tuberculoid infiltrates contain well-organized epithelioid and giant-cell granulomas and only remnants of bacilli, and the predominant T cell is from the OKT4/Leu 3a-positive subset. In both tuberculoid and lepromatous infiltrates, T cells and macrophages expressed HLA-DR antigen. No marked alteration in the distribution of blood T-cell phenotypes was noted. We conclude that there is a marked difference between T-cell subsets in lepromatous and tuberculoid infiltrates, which may influence the microbicidal activity of macrophages in the lesions.

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