Association of NRAMP1 polymorphism with leprosy type but not susceptibility to leprosy per se in west Africans.

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  • 1 Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford, United Kingdom.

Twin and family studies indicate that host genetic factors influence susceptibility to leprosy and, possibly, leprosy type. Murine studies have suggested a role for the natural resistance-associated macrophage protein 1 (Nramp1) gene, which can influence cellular immune responses to intracellular pathogens. We evaluated a variation in the human homolog, NRAMP1, recently associated with tuberculosis susceptibility in West Africa. A total of 273 patients with leprosy and 201 controls from Mali were genotyped for NRAMP1 polymorphisms previously associated with tuberculosis. No association was found with leprosy per se (P = 0.83), but the NRAMP1 3'-untranslated region 4-bp insertion/deletion polymorphism was associated with leprosy type (P = 0.007). Heterozygotes were more frequent among multibacillary than paucibacillary leprosy cases. Thus, variation in or near the NRAMP1 gene may exert an influence on the clinical presentation of leprosy, possibly by influencing cellular immune response type.