The 18-kilodalton (kDa) antigen of Mycobacterium leprae was expressed as a fusion protein with a 2-kDa leader peptide and used in proliferation assays with peripheral blood cells. Fifty percent of untreated tuberculoid leprosy patients and 93% of long-term leprosy contacts responded to the recombinant protein in lymphocyte transformation tests. Comparison of the stimulation indices in the two groups showed that the contacts responded more strongly than the tuberculoid leprosy patients. Seventy percent of Myobacterium bovis BCG-vaccinated European donors responded, although with low stimulation indices. The isolation of 18-kDa antigen-responsive T-cell lines from a BCG-vaccinated British donor confirmed that the 18-kDa antigen contains at least one cross-reactive epitope. These results indicate that the 18-kDa protein is an important antigen in the immune response to leprosy.
|Number of pages||5|
|Journal||Infection and Immunity|
|Publication status||Published - 1989|