Mycobacterium leprae in the periodontium, saliva and skin smears of leprosy patients

Ligia Fernandes Abdalla, João Hugo Abdalla Santos, Carolina Souza Cunha Collado, Maria da Graça Souza Cunha, Felipe Gomes Naveca


Purpose: To verify the presence of M. leprae in the periodontium, saliva and skin slit smears of leprosy patients. To correlate bacteriological and molecular findings with clinical data and compare laboratory techniques.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was designed to use bacteriological (baciloscopy) and molecular (PCR) parameters to detect M. leprae in exudates of the gingival sulcus/periodontium pocket, saliva and skin slit smears from multiple clinical forms of leprosy patients without previous treatment.
Results: The study included 48 leprosy patients with 15 multibacillary (MB) cases and 33 paucibacillary (PB) cases. The diagnosis of MB was confirmed through bacteriological examination and PCR results from skin slit smears. A total of 16 (48.5%) PB patients were PCR positive only. Four PB patients with negative PCR skin smears were PCR positive for the periodontium and saliva, with 2 cases and 1 case, respectively. No periodontium or saliva samples had positive bacteriological results.
Conclusion: There was no correlation between periodontal disease and the presence of M. leprae. Bacteriological examination did not prove to be an efficient technique for the analysis of saliva and periodontium samples. PCR analysis of skin smears was more efficient at diagnosing PB patients than bacteriological examination. PCR positive results for the detection of M. leprae in PB patients can be increased by collecting slit skin smears, periodontium and saliva samples.


Mycobacterium leprae; skin smears; PCR; periodontium; saliva; bacteriological examination

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e-ISSN: 1980-6523

ISSN-L: 0102-9460


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