Objective: To determine whether variant alleles in the coding portion of the mannose-binding lectin (MBL) gene are associated with increased susceptibility to systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and concomitant infections.
Methods: MBL alleles and serum concentrations were determined by polymerase chain reaction and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, respectively, in 91 Danish patients with SLE and in 250 controls.
Results: Homozygosity for MBL variant alleles was observed in 7.7% of the SLE patients compared with 2.8% of the controls (P = 0.06), while no difference was seen for heterozygosity (33.0% versus 34.4%). Homozygotes had an increased risk of acquiring serious infections compared with patients who were heterozygous or homozygous for the normal allele (odds ratio 8.6, 95% confidence interval 1.5-47.6, P = 0.01). The time interval from the diagnosis of SLE to the first infectious event was shorter (P = 0.017), and the annual number of infectious events was 4 times higher, among homozygotes (P = 0.00002). They were especially prone to acquire pneumonia (P = 0.00004). CONCLUSION; Homozygosity for MBL variant alleles may explain much of the increased risk of complicating infections seen in SLE patients. Additionally, it is a minor risk factor for acquiring SLE.