Background Laboratory diagnosis of Lyme borreliosis (LB) is mainly based on serology, which has limitations, particularly in the early stages of the disease. In recent years there have been conflicting reports concerning a new diagnostic tool using the cytokine interferon-gamma (IFN-γ). Previous studies have generally found low concentrations of IFN-γ in early LB infection. The goal of this study is to investigate IFN-γ regulation during early LB and provide insights into the host response to B. burgdorferi. Methods We performed in vitro experiments with whole blood assays and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of LB patients and healthy volunteers exposed to B. burgdorferi and evaluated the IFN-γ response using ELISA and related interindividual variation in IFN-γ production to the presence of single nucleotide polymorphisms. Results IFN-γ production of B. burgdorferi-exposed PBMCs and whole blood was amplified by the addition of IL-12 to the stimulation system. This effect was observed after 24 hours of B. burgdorferi stimulation in both healthy individuals and LB patients. The effect was highly variable between individuals, but was significantly higher in LB patients six weeks since the start of antibiotic treatment compared to healthy individuals. IL-12 p40 and IL-18 mRNA was upregulated upon exposure to B. burgdorferi, whereas IL-12 p35 and IFN-γ mRNA expression remained relatively unchanged. SNP Rs280520 in the downstream IL-12 pathway, Tyrosine Kinase 2, was associated with increased IFN-γ production. Conclusions This study shows that IL-12 evokes an IFN-γ response in B. burgdorferi exposed cells, and LB patients and healthy controls respond differently to this stimulation.

Source link