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T-cell conditioned media reverse T-cell unresponsiveness in lepromatous leprosy


In some subjects the infective agent of leprosy, Mycobacterium leprae, causes disseminated (lepromatous) disease. Such subjects have a major role in the transmission of the disease and show deficient T-cell responses both in vivo and in vitro to M. leprae, but not to other antigens1–4. Numerous studies have recently shown that T cells with functional capabilities after initial triggering with antigen can be maintained in a state of continuous proliferation in vitro when cultured in medium containing interleukin 2 (IL-2)5–8. Here we have studied the effect of IL-2 rich T-cell conditioned medium on lepromatous peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Our results show that although lepromatous T cells fail to produce IL-2 after exposure to M. leprae they can respond by proliferation to M. leprae in the presence of T-cell conditioned medium, suggesting that the unresponsiveness in lepromatous leprosy results from a deficiency in the production of IL-2 or related factors and not a lack of M. leprae-reactive T cells.

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Haregewoin, A., Godal, T., Mustafa, A. et al. T-cell conditioned media reverse T-cell unresponsiveness in lepromatous leprosy. Nature 303, 342–344 (1983).

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