Chronic Lupiod Leishmaniasis: Evaluation by Polymerase Chain Reaction

Ali Z. Momeni, MD, Shinichi Yotsumoto, MD, Darius R. Mehregan, MD, Amir H. Mehregan, MD, David A. Mehregan, MD, Mali Aminjavaheri, MD, Hiroshi Fujiwara, MD, and Joji Tada, MD
BACKGROUND: The cutaneous lesions in chronic lupoid leishmaniasis resemble those of lupus vulgaris, both clinically and histologically. The differential diagnosis is difficult and may depend on the detection of a few Leishmania amastigotes in the histologic sections, the growth of the promastigotes in cultures, or the identification of amastigotes by other techniques. Polymerase chain reaction was used to detect Leishmania amastigote DNA in tissue samples obtained from 65 patients with chronic lupoid leishmaniasis, and the results were confirmed by Southern blot analysis.

Observations: The histologic findings of a predominantly epithelioid cell granuloma surrounded by lymphocytic infiltrate in chronic lupoid leishmaniasis are very similar to those observed in lupus vulgaris. Extensive histologic examination of the sections in this series revealed occasional macrophages containing a few amastigotes in only 12 cases. Cultures in NNN medium yielded Leishmania promastigotes in 20 cases. Polymerase chain reaction studies using a Leishmania-specific primer identified Leishmania DNA in 30 of 63 cases, and those using a Mycobacterium tuberculosis primer were found to be negative for mycobacteria in 47 cases tested, including 11 cases with a positive tuberculin skin reaction.

Conclusions: The histologic findings in chronic lupoid leishmaniasis resemble those of lupus vulgaris. Polymerase chain reaction studies were useful in identifying amastigotes in 30 (47.6%) of 63 cases. This study confirms the presence of DNA molecules of Leishmania amastigotes in samples of formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded granulomatous tissue obtained from patients with chronic lupoid leishmaniasis.

Arch Dermatol 1996;132:198-202