Background: Q fever is an infection caused by Coxiella burnetii. Persistent infection (chronic Q fever) develops in 1%-5% of patients. We hypothesize that inefficient recognition of C. burnetii and/or activation of host-defense in individuals carrying genetic variants in pattern recognition receptors or adaptors would result in an increased likelihood to develop chronic Q fever. Methods: Twenty-four single-nucleotide polymorphisms in genes encoding Toll-like receptors, nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain-like receptor-2, αvβ3 integrin, CR3, and adaptors myeloid differentiation primary response protein 88 (MyD88), and Toll interleukin 1 receptor domain-containing adaptor protein (TIRAP) were genotyped in 139 patients with chronic Q fever and in 220 controls with cardiovascular risk-factors and previous exposure to C. burnetii. Associations between these single-nucleotide polymorphisms and chronic Q fever were assessed by means of univariate logistic regression models. Cytokine production in whole-blood stimulation assays was correlated with relevant genotypes. Results: Polymorphisms in TLR1 (R80T), NOD2 (1007fsX1), and MYD88 (-938C>A) were associated with chronic Q fever. No association was observed for polymorphisms in TLR2, TLR4, TLR6, TLR8, ITGAV, ITGB3, ITGAM, and TIRAP. No correction for multiple testing was performed because only genes with a known role in initial recognition of C. burnetii were included. In the whole-blood assays, individuals carrying the TLR1 80R-allele showed increased interleukin 10 production with C. burnetii exposure. Conclusions: Polymorphisms in TLR1 (R80T), NOD2 (L1007fsX1), and MYD88 (-938C>A) are associated with predisposition to development of chronic Q fever. For TLR1, increased interleukin 10 responses to C. burnetii in individuals carrying the risk allele may contribute to the increased risk of chronic Q fever.

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The Journal of Infectious Diseases

Schoffelen, T, Ammerdorffer, A, Hagenaars, J.C.J.P, Bleeker-Rovers, C.P, Wegdam-Blans, M.C, Wever, P.C, … van de Vosse, E. (2015). Genetic variation in pattern recognition receptors and adaptor proteins associated with development of chronic Q fever. The Journal of Infectious Diseases, 212(5), 818–829. doi:10.1093/infdis/jiv113