Click for abstract
Parasitic infections may induce variable immunomodulatory effects and control of autoimmune disease. Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) is a ubiquitous intracellular protozoan that was recently associated with autoimmunity. This study was undertaken to investigate the seroprevalence and clinical correlation of anti-T. gondii antibodies in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). We evaluated sera from European patients with RA (n = 125) and SLE (n = 164) for the prevalence of anti-T. gondii IgG antibodies (ATXAb), as well as other common infections such as Cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr, and Rubella virus. The rates of seropositivity were determined utilizing the LIAISON chemiluminescent immunoassays (DiaSorin, Italy). Our results showed a higher seroprevalence of ATXAb in RA patients, as compared with SLE patients [63 vs. 36 %, respectively (p = 0.01)]. The rates of seropositivity of IgG against other infectious agents were comparable between RA and SLE patients. ATXAb-seropositivity was associated with older age of RA patients, although it did not correlate with RA disease activity and other manifestations of the disease. In conclusion, our data suggest a possible link between exposure to T. gondii infection and RA.