Association of a Toll-like receptor 1 polymorphism with heightened Th1 inflammatory responses and antibiotic-refractory Lyme arthritis

Arthritis Rheum. 2012 May;64(5):1497-507. doi: 10.1002/art.34383.


Objective: Single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that alter immune function, inflammatory responses, and disease susceptibility have been identified in several genes encoding Toll-like receptors (TLRs). The TLR SNPs with the best evidence of an effect on immune function are those in TLR1 (1805GG), TLR2 (2258GA), and TLR5 (1174CT). This study was undertaken to assess the frequency and functional outcomes of these polymorphisms in patients with Lyme disease.

Methods: SNP frequencies and functional outcomes were assessed in 248 patients with Lyme disease. Cytokine and chemokine levels were determined using multiplex assays in the serum of patients with erythema migrans (EM), joint fluid of patients with Lyme arthritis, and supernatants of Borrelia burgdorferi-stimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from patients with Lyme arthritis.

Results: The frequency of the TLR1-1805GG polymorphism was greater in patients with antibiotic-refractory arthritis compared with patients with EM or those with antibiotic-responsive arthritis. Early in the illness, patients with EM carrying 1805GG, primarily those infected with B burgdorferi 16S-23S ribosomal spacer RNA intergenic type 1 (RST1) strains, had higher serum levels of interferon-γ (IFNγ), CXCL9, and CXCL10 and had more severe infection than EM patients carrying the 1805TG/TT polymorphism. These inflammatory responses were amplified in patients with Lyme arthritis, and the highest responses were observed in patients with 1805GG in the antibiotic-refractory group who had been infected with RST1 strains. When PBMCs from patients with Lyme arthritis were stimulated with a B burgdorferi RST1 strain, the 1805GG group had a significantly larger fold increase in the levels of IFNγ, CCL2, CXCL9, and CXCL10 compared to the 1805TG/TT group. In contrast, the TLR2 and TLR5 polymorphisms did not vary in frequency or function among the groups.

Conclusion: The TLR1-1805GG polymorphism in B burgdorferi RST1-infected patients was associated with stronger Th1-like inflammatory responses, an environment that may set the stage for antibiotic-refractory arthritis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Borrelia burgdorferi / classification
  • Borrelia burgdorferi / drug effects
  • Borrelia burgdorferi / genetics
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chemokine CXCL10 / blood
  • Chemokine CXCL9 / blood
  • Child
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / blood
  • Joints / microbiology
  • Joints / pathology
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear
  • Lyme Disease* / drug therapy
  • Lyme Disease* / genetics
  • Lyme Disease* / immunology
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide*
  • Synovial Fluid / metabolism
  • Synovial Fluid / microbiology
  • Synovitis* / genetics
  • Synovitis* / immunology
  • Synovitis* / pathology
  • Th1 Cells / immunology*
  • Th1 Cells / pathology
  • Toll-Like Receptor 1 / genetics*
  • Toll-Like Receptor 1 / metabolism
  • Young Adult


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Biomarkers
  • CXCL10 protein, human
  • CXCL9 protein, human
  • Chemokine CXCL10
  • Chemokine CXCL9
  • Toll-Like Receptor 1
  • Interferon-gamma