OBJECTIVE: Our aim was to assess the diagnostic value of in situ polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in leprosy, particularly for enhancing histopathological diagnosis.
METHODS: We prospectively studied 20 children (aged <16 years) with leprosy. Clinical examination of each case was performed, and skin smear for acid-fast bacillus was prepared. A biopsy of the lesion site was performed for histopathological examination and in situ PCR testing.
RESULTS: Histopathological examination confirmed the clinical diagnosis in only 45% of the cases; nonspecific histopathology was reported for the remaining 55% of the cases. In situ PCR showed a positivity of 57.1% in the early/localized form of leprosy (indeterminate/borderline tuberculoid) and 61.5% in the borderline borderline/borderline lepromatous group. When compared with the histopathological examination, a significant enhancement of 15% in diagnosis was seen. With in situ PCR, the diagnosis could be confirmed in 4 (36.3%) of 11 cases with nonspecific histopathological features (which is common in early disease) in addition to confirmation of 8 (88.8%) of 9 histopathologically confirmed tissue sections. Histopathology and in situ PCR combined together confirmed the diagnosis in 13 (65%) of the 20 cases.
CONCLUSIONS: In situ PCR is an important diagnostic tool, especially in early and doubtful cases of leprosy.
Submitted by Rajeshwar Dayal
- Copyright © 2008 by the American Academy of Pediatrics