3 years ago

Immunohistochemical characterization of the M4 macrophage population in leprosy skin lesions

Jorge Rodrigues de Sousa, Francisco Dias Lucena Neto, Mirian Nacagami Sotto, Juarez Antonio Simões Quaresma



Since macrophages are one of the major cell types involved in the Mycobacterium leprae immune response, roles of the M1 and M2 macrophage subpopulations have been well defined. However, the role of M4 macrophages in leprosy or other infectious diseases caused by mycobacteria has not yet been clearly characterized. This study aimed to investigate the presence and potential role of M4 macrophages in the immunopathology of leprosy.


We analyzed the presence of M4 macrophage markers (CD68, MRP8, MMP7, IL-6, and TNF-α) in 33 leprosy skin lesion samples from 18 patients with tuberculoid leprosy and 15 with lepromatous leprosy by immunohistochemistry.


The M4 phenotype was more strongly expressed in patients with the lepromatous form of the disease, indicating that this subpopulation is less effective in the elimination of the bacillus and consequently is associated with the evolution to one of the multibacillary clinical forms of infection.


M4 macrophages are one of the cell types involved in the microbial response to M. leprae and probably are less effective in controlling bacillus replication, contributing to the evolution to the lepromatous form of the disease.

Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s12879-018-3478-x

DOI: 10.1186/s12879-018-3478-x

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