Background: Various infectious agents are associated with atherosclerosis. This analysis was performed to investigate relation between seropositivity for anti-Borrelia IgG and carotid atherosclerosis.
Methods: The cross-sectional Study of Health in Pomerania was conducted in a general community living in a region with endemic Lyme disease. A random sample of 2483 individuals aged 45-79 years was available for the present analysis. Carotid atherosclerosis was sonographically assessed as intima-media thickness of the common carotid artery and as prevalent atherosclerotic plaques in the extracranial carotid arteries. IgG antibodies to Borrelia were determined by ELISA.
Results: IgG antibodies to Borrelia were found positive (> 10 IU/mL) in 108 subjects (4.3%). Persons with and without positive anti-Borrelia IgG antibodies differed with respect to carotid intima-media thickness values (0.863 +/- 0.017 mm versus 0.792 +/- 0.004 mm; p < 0.001) and prevalent carotid plaques (odds ratio 2.65, 95% confidence interval 1.53-4.61; p = 0.001), respectively. Seropositivity for anti-Borrelia IgG was also associated with both atherosclerotic endpoints when age, sex and further atherogenic risk factors and confounders were included in multivariable statistical models.
Conclusions: In a region with endemic Lyme disease, seropositivity for anti-Borrelia IgG antibodies is independently associated with atherosclerosis. Our findings add support to the hypothesis that exposure to infectious pathogens increases the atherosclerosis risk.