A serological test for leprosy with a glycolipid specific for Mycobacterium leprae

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Science  09 Sep 1983:
Vol. 221, Issue 4615, pp. 1057-1059
DOI: 10.1126/science.6348948


A phenolic glycolipid from Mycobacterium leprae was purified and used as antigen in an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Antibodies directed against the lipid were seen in serums from leprosy patients but not in serums from uninfected controls or patients infected with other mycobacteria, including Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The antibody response distinguished between the Mycobacterium leprae lipid and the structurally related phenolic glycolipid from Mycobacterium kansasii. This assay has considerable potential as a specific serodiagnostic test for leprosy infection.