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Genetics of leprosy reactions: an overview.

Type-1 (T1R) and Type-2 (T2R) leprosy reactions (LR), which affect up to 50% of leprosy patients, are aggressive inflammatory episodes of sudden onset and highly variable incidence across populations. LR are often diagnosed concurrently with leprosy, but more frequently occur several months after treatment onset. It is not uncommon for leprosy patients to develop recurring reactional episodes; however, they rarely undergo both types of LR. Today, LR are the main cause of permanent disabilities associated with leprosy and represent a major challenge in the clinical management of leprosy patients. Although progress has been made in understanding the immunopathology of LR, the factors that cause a leprosy patient to suffer from LR are largely unknown. Given the impact that ethnic background has on the risk of developing LR, host genetic factors have long been suspected of contributing to LR. Indeed, polymorphisms in seven genes [Toll-like receptors (TLR)1, TLR2, nucleotide-binding oligomerisation domain containing 2, vitamin D receptor, natural resistance-associated macrophage protein 1, C4B and interleukin-6] have been found to be associated with one or more LR outcomes. The identification of host genetic markers with predictive value for LR would have a major impact on nerve damage control in leprosy. In this review, we present the recent advances achieved through genetic studies of LR.

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