Antigen and mitogen-induced gamma interferon (gamma-IFN) production was studied in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from 34 leprosy patients. 17 of 18 lepromatous leprosy and borderline lepromatous patients (LL and BL) failed to release gamma-IFN in response to specific antigen (Mycobacterium leprae) and displayed reduced responses to mitogen (concanavalin A) stimulation. In contrast, cells from six tuberculoid and borderline tuberculoid patients (TT and BT) produced considerable levels of gamma-IFN under the same experimental conditions. Normal controls failed to respond to M. leprae and most displayed good responses to concanavalin A. Mid-borderline patients (BB) showed intermediate levels of gamma-IFN release. gamma-IFN release by lepromatous patients could be partially restored with purified interleukin 2 and M. leprae antigen but not with interleukin 2 alone.

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