Intact interferon-gamma response against Coxiella burnetii by peripheral blood mononuclear cells in chronic Q fever
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SourceClinical Microbiology and Infection, 23, 3, (2017), pp. 209.e9-209.e15
Article / Letter to editor
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Clinical Microbiology and Infection
SubjectRadboudumc 4: lnfectious Diseases and Global Health RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences; Radboudumc 4: lnfectious Diseases and Global Health RIMLS: Radboud Institute for Molecular Life Sciences
OBJECTIVES: Q fever is caused by Coxiella burnetii, an intracellular bacterium that infects phagocytes. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether the C. burnetii-induced IFN-gamma response is defective in chronic Q fever patients. METHODS: IFN-gamma was measured in supernatants of C. burnetii-stimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of 17 chronic Q fever patients and 17 healthy individuals. To assess IFN-gamma responses, expression profiles of IFN-gamma-induced genes in C. burnetii-stimulated PBMCs were studied in six patients and four healthy individuals. Neopterin was measured in PBMC supernatants (of eight patients and four healthy individuals) and in sera (of 21 patients and 11 healthy individuals). In a genetic association study, polymorphisms in genes involved in the Th1-cytokine response were analysed in a cohort of 139 chronic Q fever patients and a cohort of 220 control individuals with previous exposition to C. burnetii. RESULTS: IFN-gamma production by C. burnetii-stimulated PBMCs from chronic Q fever patients was significantly higher than in healthy controls. Many IFN-gamma response genes were strongly upregulated in PBMCs of patients. Neopterin levels were significantly higher in PBMC supernatants and sera of patients. The IL12B polymorphisms rs3212227 and rs2853694 were associated with chronic Q fever. CONCLUSIONS: IFN-gamma production, as well as the response to IFN-gamma, is intact in chronic Q fever patients, and even higher than in healthy individuals. Polymorphisms in the IL-12p40 gene are associated with chronic Q fever. Thus, a deficiency in IFN-gamma responses does not explain the failure to clear the infection. The genetic data suggest, however, that the IL-12/IFN-gamma pathway does play a role.
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