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Skin Imprinting in Silica Plates: A Potential Diagnostic Methodology for Leprosy Using High-Resolution Mass Spectrometry

Lima, Estela de Oliveira, de Macedo, Cristiana Santos, Esteves, Cibele Zanardi, de Oliveira, Diogo Noin, Pessolani, Maria Cristina Vidal, Nery, José Augusto da Costa, Sarno, Euzenir Nunes, Catharino, Rodrigo Ramos
Analytical chemistry 2015 v.87 no.7 pp. 3585-3592
Mycobacterium leprae, Schwann cells, acids, anesthetics, apoptosis, biopsy, diagnostic techniques, gangliosides, ionization, leprosy, macrophages, mass spectrometry, multivariate analysis, patients, peripheral nerves, phospholipids, silica, skin lesions, volunteers
Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae, which primarily infects macrophages and Schwann cells, affecting skin and peripheral nerves. Clinically, the most common form of identification is through the observation of anesthetic lesions on skin; however, up to 30% of infected patients may not present this clinical manifestation. Currently, the gold standard diagnostic test for leprosy is based on skin lesion biopsy, which is invasive and presents low sensibility for suspect cases. Therefore, the development of a fast, sensible and noninvasive method that identifies infected patients would be helpful for assertive diagnosis. The aim of this work was to identify lipid markers in leprosy patients directly from skin imprints, using a mass spectrometric analytical strategy. For skin imprint samples, a 1 cm² silica plate was gently pressed against the skin of patients or healthy volunteers. Imprinted silica lipids were extracted and submitted to direct-infusion electrospray ionization high-resolution mass spectrometry (ESI-HRMS). All samples were differentiated using a lipidomics-based data workup employing multivariate data analysis, which helped electing different lipid markers, for example, mycobacterial mycolic acids, inflammatory and apoptotic molecules were identified as leprosy patients’ markers. Otherwise, phospholipids and gangliosides were pointed as healthy volunteers’ skin lipid markers, according to normal skin composition. Results indicate that silica plate skin imprinting associated with ESI-HRMS is a promising fast and sensible leprosy diagnostic method. With a prompt leprosy diagnosis, an early and effective treatment could be feasible and thus the chain of leprosy transmission could be abbreviated.