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A technique for immunoelectronmicroscopy has been used to investigate major histocompatibility class II expression in leprosy nerves. In normal nerves, endothelial cells and occasional endoneural cells (not Schwann cells) were constitutively class II positive. In both paucibacillary and multibacillary leprosy nerve biopsies, infiltrating leukocytes were positive but class II-positive Schwann cells were not seen. These observations indicate that Schwann cells may not be involved in presenting Mycobacterium leprae antigens to T cells in leprosy. This conflicts with evidence from in vitro studies, but may be explained by the fact that in vivo Schwann cells are surrounded by basement membranes and are closely associated with axons.


Journal article


Int J Lepr Other Mycobact Dis

Publication Date





560 - 565


Antigen-Presenting Cells, Endothelium, Fibroblasts, Histocompatibility Antigens Class II, Humans, Immunohistochemistry, Leprosy, Lymphocytes, Macrophages, Microscopy, Electron, Peripheral Nerves