Interferon-α and Lyme Disease
Emerging Infectious Diseases (Alaedini, A., et al.) published an early release of 11.2023 letter to the Editor, “Investigation of Possible Link Between Interferon-α and Lyme Disease.” In this letter, authors highlight the importance of a recent study (Hernandez, S., et al.) which links persistent subjective symptoms with increased interferon (IFN) α levels in blood, following Lyme neuroborreliosis infections in Europe.
The authors of the letter state that the findings of this European Study are similar to an earlier study conducted in the US (Jacek, E., et al.) which showed an association between persistent objective neurocognitive deficits and elevated IFN-α activity in the blood after antibiotic treatment for Lyme disease. In the US study, researchers evaluated the potential role of IFN-α in a group of patients with post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS). They based their research on extensive animal and human data that have connected IFN-α with adverse “cognitive, neuropsychiatric, and behavioral manifestations.”
Authors of the letter note that the methods of IFN-α detection between the 2 studies were different; the European study researchers relied on a “bead-based immunoassay to directly measure IFN-α levels”, whereas in the US study, a “functional cell-based assay and quantitative real-time PCR” was used to assess IFN-α. The authors state that insensitivity associated with direct detection methods may have complicated the analysis and interpretation of the European data, and that newly developed assays with higher sensitivity might be useful in detecting even very low concentrations of IFN-α in study participants.
Authors further state that the observations in both the European and US studies contribute to the growing evidence of the involvement of innate and adaptive immune-mediated pathways after Lyme disease infections. They suggest that future studies utilizing the new ultrasensitive assays for IFN-α detection should include a more diverse subset of individuals with PTLDS, and that the findings may be very important in identifying biomarkers and potential therapies for PTLDS.
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