Mycobacterium leprae, the cause of leprosy, is an acid-fast bacillus that has not beengrown in artificial medium or tissue culture beyond, possibly, a few generations. However,it can be grown in the footpads of normal mice, in thymectomized irradiated mice, and in the armadillo, which may also be infected naturally. Its growth in animals is very slow,with an estimated doubling time of 12 to 14 days. Although lack of in vitro growth se- verely limits study of the organism, the structure and cell wall components appear to be similar to other mycobacteria. One mycoside, phenolic glycolipid I (PGL-1), is synthe-sized in large amounts and found only in M. leprae.
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