Clin Microbiol Infect 2010; 16: 593–599
Leptospirosis is a zoonotic infection associated with severe diseases such as leptospirosis pulmonary haemorrhage syndrome (LPHS). The cause of pulmonary haemorrhage is unclear. Understanding which mechanisms and processes are involved in LPHS will be important in treatment regimens under development for this life-threatening syndrome. In the present study, we evaluated 30 lung specimens from LPHS patients and seven controls using histology and immunohistochemistry (detection of IgM, IgG, IgA and C3) in order to describe the pathological features associated with this syndrome. Immunoglobulin deposits were detected on the alveolar surface in 18/30 LPHS patients. Three staining patterns were observed for the immunoglobulins and C3 in the lung tissues of LPHS patients: AS, delicate linear staining adjacent to the alveolar surface, which was indicative of a membrane covering the luminal surface of type I and II pneumocyte cells; S, heterogeneous staining which was sporadically distributed along the alveolar septum; and IA, weak, focal intra-alveolar granular staining. Human LPHS is associated with individual and unique histological patterns that differ from those of other causes of pulmonary haemorrhage. In the present study, it was found that the linear deposition of immunoglobulins (IgA, IgG and IgM) and complement on the alveolar surface may play a role in the pathogenesis of pulmonary haemorrhage in human leptospirosis.