Investigation of bacterial and viral agents and immune status in Behcet's disease patients from Iran
Aim: Behcet's disease (BD) is an autoimmune disorder associated with HLA-B51 positivity. Serologic/genomic findings have suggested microbes as possible causative agents and the geographical distribution suggests environmental influences. Methods: We performed comparative analyses of 40 patients with BD or related symptoms not fulfilling BD criteria. Patients originating from different regions of Iran were tested by molecular/serological methods for human herpes viruses and parvovirus B19, two Chlamydiae species, as well as Coxiella, Listeria, Yersinia, Leptospira and Mycobacterium paratuberculosis. Human leukocyte antigen-typing was performed: testing of cytokine profiles and immune mediators representative for the cellular immune system, including neopterin/kynurenine production. Results: No apparent differences in interleukin (IL)-4, 6, 8 and 10 were observed, whereas production of soluble IL-2-receptor and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha were more pronounced in the BD group. Neopterin/kynurenine production was comparable, although both groups showed twice the levels of healthy people. No significant differences of herpes simplex virus (HSV) antibody titres were observed but higher titres against Chlamydophila pneumoniae were found in the controls. In 20 BD patients and controls neither parvovirus B19 DNA was detected nor bacterial DNA. Viral DNA of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), cytomegalovirus (CMV) and human herpes virus (HHV) 8 was detected more frequently in the BD group, whereas HSV DNA was only found in the controls, indicating that stomatitis might be caused by HSV. Conclusion: Although no significant association of BD was detected with a single pathogen, our findings suggest that detection of HSV DNA or Chlamydiae would rather argue against classic BD. Whether there is a discriminative potential of the tested immune mediators/receptors has to be elucidated in further studies.