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Natural IgM antibodies in the immune defence against neoehrlichiosis

Journal article
Authors Christine Wennerås
D. Goldblatt
M. Zancolli
M. Mattsson
Linda Wass
S. Horkko
A. Rosen
Published in Infectious Diseases
Volume 49
Issue 11-12
Pages 809-816
ISSN 2374-4235
Publication year 2017
Published at Institute of Biomedicine, Department of Infectious Medicine
Pages 809-816
Language en
Keywords Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis, natural IgM antibodies, malondialdehyde acetaldehyde epitope, memory b-cells, malondialdehyde acetaldehyde adducts, chronic, lymphocytic-leukemia, apoptotic cells, mikurensis, infections, rituximab, immunoglobulin, disease, spleen, Infectious Diseases
Subject categories Infectious Medicine


Background: Neoehrlichiosis is an infectious disease caused by the tick-borne bacterium Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis. Splenectomy and rituximab therapies are risk factors for severe neoehrlichiosis. Our aim was to examine if neoehrlichiosis patients had low levels of natural IgM antibodies and/or were hypogammaglobulinemic, and if such deficiencies were associated with asplenia and vascular complications. Methods: Neoehrlichiosis patients (n=9) and control subjects (n=10) were investigated for serum levels of IgG, IgA, and IgM, and for levels of natural IgM antibodies to pneumococcal polysaccharides (6B, 14), and to the malondialdehyde acetaldehyde epitope of oxidized LDL. The multivariate method Projection to Latent Structures was used to analyze the data. Results: The levels of natural IgM antibodies of various specificities were decreased or not measurable in half of the studied patients with neoehrlichiosis. Only one patient and one control subject were hypogammaglobulinemic. An inverse relationship was noted between the levels of natural IgM antibodies and the development of deep vein thrombosis. Unexpectedly, no association was seen between having or not having a spleen and the levels of natural IgM antibody levels in the circulation. Conclusions: Neither hypogammaglobulinemia nor lack of natural IgM antibodies alone predisposes for severe neoehrlichiosis. The importance of the spleen in the immune defence against Ca. N. mikurensis probably lies in its capacity to generate or maintain specific antibodies.

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