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BioMed Research International
Volume 2013, Article ID 989837, 17 pages
Review Article

Role of HLA, KIR, MICA, and Cytokines Genes in Leprosy

1Program of Biosciences Applied to Pharmacy, Department of Clinical Analysis and Biomedicine, Maringa State University, Avenida Colombo 5790, 87020-900 Maringá, PR, Brazil
2Basic Health Sciences Department, Maringa State University, Avenida Colombo 5790, 87020-900 Maringá, PR, Brazil

Received 20 March 2013; Revised 16 May 2013; Accepted 5 June 2013

Academic Editor: Enrique Medina-Acosta

Copyright © 2013 Luciana Ribeiro Jarduli et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Many genes including HLA, KIR, and MICA genes, as well as polymorphisms in cytokines have been investigated for their role in infectious disease. HLA alleles may influence not only susceptibility or resistance to leprosy, but also the course of the disease. Some combinations of HLA and KIR may result in negative as well as positive interactions between NK cells and infected host cells with M. leprae, resulting in activation or inhibition of NK cells and, consequently, in death of bacillus. In addition, studies have demonstrated the influence of MICA genes in the pathogenesis of leprosy. Specifically, they may play a role in the interaction between NK cells and infected cells. Finally, pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines have been influencing the clinical course of leprosy. Data from a wide variety of sources support the existence of genetic factors influencing the leprosy pathogenesis. These sources include twin studies, segregation analyses, family-based linkage and association studies, candidate gene association studies, and, most recently, genome-wide association studies (GWAS). The purpose of this brief review was to highlight the importance of some immune response genes and their correlation with the clinical forms of leprosy, as well as their implications for disease resistance and susceptibility.