To determine the association between leprosy and human retroviral infections, 57 leprosy patients, 39 leprosy contacts, and 500 pregnant women were investigated serologically for antibodies to human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV) and human T cell lymphotropic virus (HTLV) types I and II. Antibodies to Mycobacterium leprae phenolic glycolipid I (PGL-I), and lipoarabinomannan (LAM) were also analyzed. A low prevalence of HIV-1 infection was observed among leprosy patients (3.5%), leprosy contacts (0), andpregnant women (3.6%). Antibodies to HTLV-I but not -II were found more often in leprosy patients (8.7%) and contacts (12.8%) than in pregnant women (0). Sera from leprosy patients and leprosy contacts were often false-positive for HIV-l by ELISA and were indeterminate by Western blot. LAM IgM and PGL-I IgM antibodies in sera from leprosy patients yielded significant cross-reactivities with HIV-1 pol and gag proteins. These data suggest that mycobacterial cell wall antigens may share common epitopes with HIV. Caution should be exercised when interpreting HIV-1 ELISA and Western blot data from regions where leprosy or other mycobacterialdiseases are endemic.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Immunology and Allergy
- Infectious Diseases