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Alterations in the membrane of macrophages from leprosy patients.

By T J Birdi, N F Mistry, P R Mahadevan and N H Antia


Macrophage cultures pulsed with viable Mycobacterium leprae were assessed for erythrocyte rosetting in three groups of individuals, i.e., normal subjects, and tuberculoid and lepromatous patients. Of these, only the lepromatous group showed a reduction in rosetting ability after infection with M. leprae. The specificity of such a reduction pattern was confirmed by using various mycobacteria to infect the macrophages. A threshold effect was noted in all three groups. Although a reduction was obtained in the amount of rosetting of macrophages from lepromatous patients with 10(4) acid-fast bacilli per culture, tuberculoid and normal macrophages resisted such an effect with as large a dose as 20 X 10(6) to 30 X 10(6) and 30 X 10(6) bacilli per culture, respectively. The M. leprae-caused alterations in macrophages from lepromatous patients were reversible by treatment with trypsin and colchicine. Cytochalasin B and Tween 80 were unable to alter the pattern. Treatment of cells with neuraminidase was inconclusive since it enhanced rosetting values of both control and infected cultures. These manipulations were significant in elucidating the target point of the host (macrophage) and parasite (M. leprae) interaction and in delineation of the external and internal effects upon the macrophages. Both M. leprae and macrophages were participants in Fc reduction, as treatment of the former with rifampicin and of the latter with cyclocheximide significantly augmented the rosetting ability. In conclusion, it appears that M. leprae, upon entering a lepromatous macrophage, initiates the production of a protein which acts via the microtubules to alter membrane topography. It is possible that the altered membrane prevents effective macrophage-lymphocyte interaction. This could be one of the mechanisms by which cell-mediated immunity is suppressed in lepromatous leprosy

Topics: Research Article
Year: 1983
OAI identifier: oai:pubmedcentral.nih.gov:264751
Provided by: PubMed Central
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