Prospects for new leprosy diagnostic tools, a narrative review considering ELISA and PCR assays

Slit skin smear and histopathological examinations are currently the main laboratory tools used to aid the diagnosis of leprosy. However, their sensitivity is low, and many cases are not detected. New methodologies have been studied to develop more accurate tests. This
narrative review aims to raise attention to the results of molecular (polymerase chain reaction) and serological Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay tests applied to the diagnosis of leprosy, and to summarize the available information about the former. Original
scientific articles published in indexed international journals, whose study involved aspects of the diagnosis and classification of leprosy cases or home contacts, were selected. The data were extracted independently using a standardized method that dictated the inclusion of the following information: diagnosis in Paucibacillary and Multibacillary cases and in household contacts; sample number; sample type; study design; studied variables; statistical analysis employed; main results; and limitations identified. In clinical practice, the results from molecular and serological tests are assessed separately, with moderate sensitivity and specificity. However, an integrated study of these methodologies has been suggested for greater accuracy in diagnosis.
Keywords: Leprosy. Polymerase Chain Reaction. Serologic Tests.

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