Analysis of the leprosy agents mycobacterium leprae and mycobacterium lepromatosis in four countries

Xiang Y. Han, Fleur M. Aung, Siew Eng Choon, Betina Werner

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38 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: To differentiate the leprosy agents Mycobacterium leprae and Mycobacterium lepromatosis and correlate them with geographic distribution and clinicopathologic features. Methods: Species-specific polymerase chain reactions were used to detect each bacillus in archived skin biopsy specimens from patients with leprosy from Brazil (n = 52), Malaysia (n = 31), Myanmar (n = 9), and Uganda (n = 4). Findings were correlated with clinical and pathologic data. Results: Etiologic species was detected in 46 of the 52 Brazilian patients, including 36 patients with M leprae, seven with M lepromatosis, and three with both bacilli. The seven patients with sole M lepromatosis all had tuberculoid leprosy, whereas only nine of the 36 patients infected with M leprae exhibited this type, and the rest were lepromatous (P < .001). All patients with dual infections had lepromatous leprosy. Of the nine patients from Myanmar, six were test positive: four with M leprae and two with M lepromatosis. Of the Malaysian and Ugandan patients, only M leprae was detected in 27 of the 31 Malaysians and two of the four Ugandans. Conclusions: The leprosy agents vary in geographic distribution. Finding M lepromatosis in Brazil and Myanmar suggests wide existence of this newly discovered species. The leprosy manifestations likely vary with the etiologic agents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)524-532
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Pathology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Geographic medicine
  • Leprosy
  • Molecular diagnosis
  • Mycobacterium leprae
  • Mycobacterium lepromatosis

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