Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms in TLR9 Are Highly Associated with Susceptibility to Bacterial Meningitis in Children

Marieke S. Sanders, Gijs Th. J. van Well, Sander Ouburg, Patric S. J. Lundberg, Anne Marceline van Furth, Servaas A. Morre*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

34 Citations (Web of Science)


Background. Bacterial meningitis (BM) is a severe infection mainly caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae and Neisseria meningitidis (NM). However, genetically determined susceptibility to develop severe infections by these microorganisms is variable between individuals. Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9) recognizes bacterial DNA leading to intracellular inflammatory signaling. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within the TLR9 gene are associated with susceptibility to several diseases, no such association with meningitis has been described. Methods. We studied the role of TLR9 SNPs in host defense against BM. Two TLR9 SNPs and 4 TLR9 haplotypes were determined in 472 survivors of BM and compared to 392 healthy controls. Results. Carriage of the TLR9+2848-A mutant was significantly decreased in meningococcal meningitis (MM) patients compared with controls (p: .0098, odds ratio [OR]: .6, 95% confidence interval [CI]: .4-.9). TLR9 haplotype I was associated with an increased susceptibility to MM (p: .0237, OR 1.3, 95% CI: 1.0-1.5). In silico analysis shows a very strong immunoinhibitory potential for DNA of NM upon recognition by TLR9 (CpG index of -106.8). Conclusions. We report an association of TLR9 SNPs with susceptibility to BM, specifically MM indicating a protective effect for the TLR9+2848-A allele. We hypothesize that the TLR9+2848-A mutant results in an up-regulation of TLR9 induced immune response compensating the strong inhibitory potential of NM CpG DNA.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-480
JournalClinical Infectious Diseases
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2011

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