Anti-neural antibody reactivity in patients with a history of Lyme borreliosis and persistent symptoms

Department of Neurology and Neuroscience, Cornell University, New York, NY 10065, USA.
Brain Behavior and Immunity (Impact Factor: 5.89). 03/2010; 24(6):1018-24. DOI: 10.1016/j.bbi.2010.03.002
Source: PubMed


Some Lyme disease patients report debilitating chronic symptoms of pain, fatigue, and cognitive deficits despite recommended courses of antibiotic treatment. The mechanisms responsible for these symptoms, collectively referred to as post-Lyme disease syndrome (PLS) or chronic Lyme disease, remain unclear. We investigated the presence of immune system abnormalities in PLS by assessing the levels of antibodies to neural proteins in patients and controls. Serum samples from PLS patients, post-Lyme disease healthy individuals, patients with systemic lupus erythematosus, and normal healthy individuals were analyzed for anti-neural antibodies by immunoblotting and immunohistochemistry. Anti-neural antibody reactivity was found to be significantly higher in the PLS group than in the post-Lyme healthy (p<0.01) and normal healthy (p<0.01) groups. The observed heightened antibody reactivity in PLS patients could not be attributed solely to the presence of cross-reactive anti-borrelia antibodies, as the borrelial seronegative patients also exhibited elevated anti-neural antibody levels. Immunohistochemical analysis of PLS serum antibody activity demonstrated binding to cells in the central and peripheral nervous systems. The results provide evidence for the existence of a differential immune system response in PLS, offering new clues about the etiopathogenesis of the disease that may prove useful in devising more effective treatment strategies.

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Available from: Mary Crow, Aug 05, 2014
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    • "The observation that nearly half of the patients in this study have increased serum antibody reactivity to neural antigens is similar to findings from an earlier study by our group (Chandra et al., 2010). In that study, 49% of serum samples from a cohort of patients, recruited as part of a treatment trial of patients with PLDS (Klempner et al., 2001), were found to have elevated anti-neural antibody reactivity. "
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    ABSTRACT: Following antibiotic treatment for Lyme disease, some patients report persistent or relapsing symptoms of pain, fatigue, and/or cognitive deficits. Factors other than active infection, including immune abnormalities, have been suggested, but few clues regarding mechanism have emerged. Furthermore, the effect of antibiotic treatment on immune response in affected individuals remains unknown. In this study, a longitudinal analysis of specific immune markers of interest was carried out in patients with a history of Lyme disease and persistent objective memory impairment, prior to and following treatment with either ceftriaxone or placebo. IFNα activity was measured by detection of serum-induced changes in specific target genes, using a functional cell-based assay and quantitative real-time PCR. Level and pattern of antibody reactivity to brain antigens and to Borrelia burgdorferi proteins were analyzed by ELISA and immunoblotting. Sera from the patient cohort induced significantly higher expression of IFIT1 and IFI44 target genes than those from healthy controls, indicating increased IFNα activity. Antibody reactivity to specific brain and borrelial proteins was significantly elevated in affected patients. IFNα activity and antibody profile did not change significantly in response to ceftriaxone. The heightened antibody response implies enhanced immune stimulation, possibly due to prolonged exposure to the organism prior to the initial diagnosis and antibiotic treatment of Lyme disease. The increase in IFNα activity is suggestive of a mechanism contributing to the ongoing neuropsychiatric symptoms.
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