On the origin of leprosy

Marc Monot, Nadine Honoré, Thierry Garnier, Romulo Araoz, Jean Yves Coppée, Céline Lacroix, Samba Sow, John S. Spencer, Richard W. Truman, Diana L. Williams, Robert Gelber, Marcos Virmond, Béatrice Flageul, Sang Nae Cho, Baohong Ji, Alberto Paniz-Mondolfi, Jacinto Convit, Saroj Young, Paul E. Fine, Voahangy RasolofoPatrick J. Brennan, Stewart T. Cole

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

355 Citations (Scopus)


Leprosy, a chronic human disease with potentially debilitating neurological consequences, results from infection with Mycobacterium leprae. This unculturable pathogen has undergone extensive reductive evolution, with half of its genome now occupied by pseudogenes. Using comparative genomics, we demonstrated that all extant cases of leprosy are attributable to a single clone whose dissemination worldwide can be retraced from analysis of very rare single-nucleotide polymorphisms. The disease seems to have originated in Eastern Africa or the Near East and spread with successive human migrations. Europeans or North Africans introduced leprosy into West Africa and the Americas within the past 500 years.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1040-1042
Number of pages3
Issue number5724
Publication statusPublished - 2005 May 13

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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