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Liver in Leprosy: Histological and Biochemical Findings

Br Med J 1971; 1 doi: (Published 06 February 1971) Cite this as: Br Med J 1971;1:307
  1. A. B. A. Karat,
  2. C. K. Job,
  3. P. S. S. Rao


    The histological findings and their correlation with biochemical functions of the liver in 240 leprosy patients are presented. In 21% with tuberculoid leprosy and in 62% with lepromatous leprosy leprous granulomata were found in the liver. A significant prevalence of granulomatous lesions in the liver among patients with tuberculoid and borderline-tuberculoid leprosy of less than one year's duration suggests that bacillaemia occurs early in all forms of leprosy.

    There was a direct correlation between bacterial index and the presence of acid-fast bacilli in the liver. Of 50 patients with negative skin smears seven had acid-fast bacilli at liver biopsy. From none of these liver homogenates were acid-fast bacilli grown on culture in Löwenstein-Jensen medium.

    The alterations in liver functions were more consistently seen when acid-fast bacilli were associated with the presence of leprous granulomatous lesions. The acid-fast bacilli were found to persist even after one to five years of specific antileprosy therapy and after the bacilli in the skin had cleared up. This may explain the relatively frequent recrudescence or relapse of the bacillated types of leprosy when specific antileprosy therapy is stopped soon after bacterial negativity is attained on skin smears.