Serial measurement of serum cytokines, cytokine receptors and neopterin in leprosy patients with reversal reactions

Lepr Rev. 2004 Sep;75(3):274-81.


Serum levels of cytokines (IL-4, IL-5, IFN-gamma, TNF-alpha), cytokine receptors (TNFR I and II) and one monokine (neopterin) were estimated in seven leprosy patients to establish disease associated markers for reversal reactions (RR). Sera were collected at diagnosis of leprosy, at the onset of reversal reaction and at different time points during and at the end of prednisone treatment of reactions. It was expected that the serum cytokine and monokine profile before and at different time points during reactions would provide guidelines for the diagnosis and monitoring of reversal reactions in leprosy. The cytokines and cytokine receptors were measured by ELISA, whereas a radioimmunoassay was used for neopterin measurement. Six of the seven patients showed increased levels of neopterin either at the onset of RR or 1 month thereafter, and levels declined on prednisone treatment to that seen at the time of diagnosis without reactions. No consistent disease associated cytokine profile was observed in these patients. Interestingly, serum TNF-alpha levels were increased in the same patients even after completion of prednisone treatment, indicating ongoing immune activity. In conclusion, this study demonstrates that despite cytokines levels in leprosy serum being inconsistent in relation to reversal reactions, serum neopterin measurement appears to be an useful biomarker in monitoring RR patients during corticosteroid therapy.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cytokines / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leprostatic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Leprosy, Lepromatous / blood
  • Leprosy, Lepromatous / drug therapy
  • Leprosy, Lepromatous / epidemiology*
  • Leprosy, Lepromatous / immunology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neopterin / blood*
  • Philippines / epidemiology
  • Receptors, Cytokine / blood


  • Biomarkers
  • Cytokines
  • Leprostatic Agents
  • Receptors, Cytokine
  • Neopterin