Risk factors for the widely endemic and much-debated tick-borne infection, Lyme borreliosis (LB), are unknown. The mannose-binding lectin (MBL) pathway of the complement cascade has an essential role in the eradication of Borrelia burgdorferi. A sufficient concentration of biologically active MBL in body fluids is an indicator of proper function of the MBL pathway. In this study, we investigated whether impaired MBL pathway function, represented by reduced serum MBL concentration, predisposes individuals to LB. First, we determined a serum MBL concentration cut-off level associated with diminished MBL pathway function in a group of 201 individuals. Then, we identified 350 borrelia Ab+ LB patient serum samples and 350 Ab− control samples from the archives of our laboratory and measured serum MBL concentrations in both sample groups. The concentration data were analyzed statistically using logistic regression, controlling for MBL cut-off, age, gender, and age and gender interaction. Serum MBL concentrations < 787 and < 445 ng/ml were associated with diminished and deficient MBL pathway function, respectively. Using these cut-offs, diminished (41.4 versus 27.4%, p = 0.0027) and deficient (26.3 versus 17.1%, p = 0.0361) MBL pathway functions were observed statistically more frequently in the LB patient samples than in the control samples. Also, the age-adjusted median serum MBL concentrations were significantly lower in the LB patient samples than in the non-LB controls. Our findings indicate that a deficiency in the MBL pathway of the complement cascade is a risk factor for developing disseminated Ab+ LB.
This work was supported by the University of Turku, the Academy of Finland, and the National Institute for Health and Welfare. The materials used in the study were funded by a grant from the Academy of Finland.
- Received August 18, 2014.
- Accepted November 1, 2014.
- Copyright © 2014 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.