Presence of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato antibodies in the serum of patients with abdominal aortic aneurysms

Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. 2012 May;31(5):781-9. doi: 10.1007/s10096-011-1375-y. Epub 2011 Aug 13.

Abstract

Infectious agents are likely to play a role in the pathogenesis of chronic inflammatory diseases, including abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs). The goal of this study was to determine if Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato (sl), a microorganism responsible for Lyme disease, is involved in the etiology of AAAs. The presence of serum antibodies against B. burgdorferi sl was measured with enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and confirmed by Western blotting in 96 AAA and 108 peripheral artery disease (PAD) patients. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was used for the detection of Borrelia-specific DNA in the aneurysm wall. Among AAA patients 34% and among PAD patients 16% were seropositive for B. burgdorferi sl antibodies (Fisher's exact test, p = 0.003; odds ratio [OR] 2.79; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.37-5.85). In the German general population, 3-17% are seropositive for Borrelia antibodies. No Borrelia DNA was detected in the aneurysm wall. Our findings suggest a relationship between AAAs and B. burgdorferi sl. We hypothesize that the underlying mechanism for B. burgdorferi sl in AAA formation is similar to that by the spirochete Treponema pallidum; alternatively, AAAs could develop due to induced autoimmunity via molecular mimicry due to similarities between some of the B. burgdorferi sl proteins and aortic proteins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / blood*
  • Aortic Aneurysm, Abdominal / epidemiology*
  • Aortic Aneurysm, Abdominal / etiology*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Borrelia burgdorferi Group / immunology*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lyme Disease / complications*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged

Substances

  • Antibodies, Bacterial