Genetic Variant Increases Susceptibility to Lyme Disease

Photo of DNAHelmhotlz Centre for Infection Research, Nicole Silbermann (05.13.24) reports in a news release, “Lyme disease: Probability of developing the disease is genetically predisposed.” A team of researchers from the Centre for Individualized Infection Medicine (CiiM), a joint institution of the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) and Hannover Medical School (MHH), discovered a gene variant responsible for increased susceptibility to the development of persistent Lyme disease and the immune parameters involved. This research was conducted in cooperation with two medical centers in the Netherlands, Radboud University Hospital and Amsterdam UMC.  The findings of this research are published in two studies found in Nature Communications and BMC Infectious Diseases.

Researchers analyzed gene patterns of more than 1,000 Lyme disease patients. These patterns were then compared with the gene patterns of non-infected persons. The research team identified a gene variant in Lyme disease patients that was previously unknown. The team conducted multiple cell biological and immunological tests to determine what specific physiological consequences this “genetic predisposition” has on the development of disease. A reduction of anti-inflammatory processes in the body and significantly fewer antibodies against Borrelia was found in patients with the gene variant. These factors lead to persistent inflammation and symptoms of Lyme disease in patients with this genetic variant because bacteria cannot be attacked efficiently. 

Researchers also identified 34 different gene loci involved in the regulation of the immune response of Lyme disease patients via cytokines (messenger substances) that are key to immune-mediated diseases such as allergies and inflammation. Results of the study show how genetics determine immune responses when exposed to the Lyme bacteria, data that may help in the development of effective treatments for Lyme disease patients that suffer with persistent symptoms.

For More Information: 

Read Helmhotlz Centre for Infection Research News Release

Read Nature Communications Publication

Read BMC Infectious Diseases Publication

Read More LDA Articles on Persistent Lyme Disease