Detection of phenolic glycolipid I of Mycobacterium leprae in sera from leprosy patients before and after start of multidrug therapy

Clin Diagn Lab Immunol. 2001 Jan;8(1):138-42. doi: 10.1128/CDLI.8.1.138-142.2001.


A total of 100 untreated new leprosy patients were recruited prospectively and examined for the presence of phenolic glycolipid I (PGL-I) antigen in their serum specimens by dot enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) using rabbit anti-PGL-I antiserum. The presence of circulating PGL-I antigen was closely related to the bacterial indices (BI) of the patients. The PGL-I antigen was detectable in 27 (93.1%) of 29 patients with a BI of 4.0 or above and in 15 (68.2%) of 22 patients with a BI of 3.0 to 3.9. However, none of the 37 patients with a BI of less than 1.9 had detectable PGL-I antigen by the methods used in this study. The level of PGL-I in serum declined rapidly by about 90% 1 month after the start of multidrug therapy. This study showed clearly that anti-PGL-I IgM antibodies and circulating PGL-I antigen levels reflect the bacterial loads in untreated leprosy patients. The serological parameters based on the PGL-I antigen may therefore be useful in the assessment of leprosy patients at the time of diagnosis and possibly in monitoring patients following chemotherapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Bacterial / blood*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay / methods
  • Glycolipids / blood*
  • Humans
  • Leprostatic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Leprosy / blood
  • Leprosy / drug therapy
  • Leprosy / immunology
  • Leprosy / microbiology*
  • Mycobacterium leprae / immunology*
  • Prospective Studies


  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Glycolipids
  • Leprostatic Agents
  • phenolic glycolipid I, Mycobacterium leprae