Nine-banded Armadillo Dasypus novemcinctus Animal Model for Leprosy (Hansen’s Disease)


  • R Vijayaraghavan Laboratory Animal Facilities, Central Leprosy Teaching and Research Institute



Leprosy (Hansen’s disease) is a chronic infectious disease of mankind caused by Mycobacterium leprae.  Despite several serious scientific attempts, M.leprae has never been cultivated in artificial bacteriological  media. When M.leprae was identified as the causative germ of leprosy, Hansen (who discovered the causative  germ of leprosy in 1873) attempted to cultivate the germ in animal models, but he failed. Nearly 85  years after the discovery of M. leprae successful transmission and multiplication of M.leprae in the footpads  of laboratory mice was achieved. The mouse footpad model, although widely used in experimental leprosy,  has its own limitations (Sheppard, 1960; Rojas and Lovik, 2001). In 1971, significant advancement in  experimental leprosy research was made when nine-banded armadillos (Dasypus novemcinctus) were successfully  infected with M.leprae and developed generalised lepromatous leprosy over a period of 18 to 24  months post inoculation. Since then, the nine-banded armadillo has become a favoured animal model for  experimental leprosy (Krichheimer et al., 1972; Job et al., 2003). They remain as the only immunologically  intact species which regularly develops lepromatous leprosy. 


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How to Cite

Vijayaraghavan, R. (2009). Nine-banded Armadillo Dasypus novemcinctus Animal Model for Leprosy (Hansen’s Disease). Scandinavian Journal of Laboratory Animal Science, 36(2), 167–176.