The protein that’s an early-warning system against Lyme disease

People with high levels of one specific protein get an early warning about Lyme disease infection, and so are much more likely to get it treated successfully.

Although everyone has the protein, known as PGLYRP1 (Peptidoglycan Recognition Protein 1), some of us have higher levels of it, and so their immune system will be alerted about infection much earlier. If the infection is left untreated, it can spread to the heart, joints and nervous system.

Laboratory tests discovered the protein acts as an early-warning system against B.burgdorferi, the bacteria from ticks that cause Lyme disease. Mice with low levels of the protein had more Lyme infection, and were also showing signs of immune system dysfunction, suggesting the protein can also marshal an immune response.

Researchers at Yale University say the discovery could open up a new line of therapy against Lyme disease, and finding ways to increase levels of the PGLYRP1 protein could help fight infection.

(Source: PLOS Pathogen, 2020; 16: e1009030)