Leprosy presents as a clinical and immunological spectrum of disease. With the use of gene expression profiling, we observed that a distinction in gene expression correlates with and accurately classifies the clinical form of the disease, Genes belonging to the leukocyte immunoglobulin-like receptor (LIR) family were significantly up-regulated in lesions of lepromatous patients suffering from the disseminated form of the infection. In functional studies, LIR-7 suppressed innate host defense mechanisms by shifting monocyte production from interleukin-12 toward interleukin-10 and by blocking antimicrobial activity triggered by Toll-like receptors. Gene expression profiles may be useful in defining clinical forms of disease and providing insights into the regulation of immune responses to pathogens.
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