British Leprosy Relief Association
Cyclosporine A treatment of leprosy patients with chronic neuritis is associated with pain control and reduction in antibodies against nerve growth factor
De SenaChubert Bernardo Castroa
TavaresClaudia Moacilene Penalbere
Da CruzCarlos Alberto Vieirae
Do NascimentoJosé Luiz Martinsa
aDepartamento de Fisiologia, Laboratório de Neuroquímica Molecular e Celular, UFPA, Belém, Pará, Brasil
bNúcleo de Medicina Tropical, UFPA, Belém, Pará, Brasil
cLaboratório de Dermato-Imunologia UEPA/UFPA/MC, Marituba, Pará, Brasil
dDepartamento de Patologia, UFPA, Belém, Pará, Brasil
eCentro de Referência e Treinamento em Dermatologia Sanitária ‘Dr. Marcello Candia’, Marituba, Pará, Brasil
Correspondence to: J. L. M. Do Nascimento (Tel.: +55-91-224-1690; Fax: +55-91-211-1601; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Chronic neuritis (CN) is still a major problem in leprosy and is difficult to manage in patients who do not respond well to prednisone. In this study we (i) evaluate the efficacy of cyclosporine A (CyA) in controlling CN patients, and (ii) analyse the presence of anti-NGF antibodies in the sera of leprosy patients, and their behaviour during CyA treatment.
This was an open, prospective, non-comparative study. Sixty-seven leprosy patients in three different institutions in Pará, Brazil were studied from January, 2001 to January, 2004. Of these, 47 had no CN and 20 were leprosy patients suffering from CN and taking at least 40 mg/day prednisone to control nerve impairment and pain. Patients received 12 months reducing course CyA starting at 5 mg/kg per day. The outcome measure was sensory impairment, assessed using Semmes–Weinstein monofilament examination (SWME), muscular force and spontaneous or palpation-related pain.
Antibodies against NGF were detected in the sera of leprosy patients, which may explain the depletion of NGF in leprosy contributing to neuritis, inflammation and loss of cutaneous nociception. The levels of these antibodies in CN patients were slightly lower than in patients with no CN. However, anti-NGF titres in CN patients treated with CyA were lowered to levels similar to those in the normal subjects. There was also improvement in sensory impairment, muscular force and pain.
These data suggest that anti-NGF antibodies are present in the sera of leprosy patients and may influence the outcome of neuritis, and that CyA might be a useful drug in controlling nerve impairment and pain in leprosy patients.