Heterozygosity for the S180L Variant ofMAL/TIRAP,a Gene Expressing an Adaptor Protein in the Toll-Like Receptor Pathway, Is Associated with Lower Risk of Developing Chronic Chagas Cardiomyopathy

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Chagas disease is caused by the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi. Among T. cruzi-infected individuals, only a subgroup develops severe chronic Chagas cardiomyopathy (CCC); the majority remain asymptomatic. T. cruzi displays numerous ligands for the Toll-like receptors (TLRs), which are an important component of innate immunity that lead to the transcription of proinflammatory cytokines by nuclear factor-κB. Because proinflammatory cytokines play an important role in CCC, we hypothesized that single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the genes that encode proteins in the TLR pathway could explain differential susceptibility to CCC among T. cruzi-infected individuals.


For 169 patients with CCC and 76 T. cruzi-infected, asymptomatic individuals, we analyzed SNPs by use of polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis for the genes TLR1, TLR2, TLR4, TLR5, TLR9, and MAL/TIRAP, which encodes an adaptor protein.


Heterozygous carriers of the MAL/TIRAP variant S180L were more prevalent in the asymptomatic group (24 [32%] of 76 subjects) than in the CCC group (21 [12%] of 169) (χ2=12.6; P = .0004 [adjusted P &parl0;Pc&parr0;=.0084]; odds ratio [OR], 0.31 [95% confidence interval {CI}, 0.16-0.60]). Subgroup analysis showed a stronger association when asymptomatic patients were compared with patients who had severe CCC (i.e., patients with left-ventricular ejection fraction ≤40%) (χ2=11.3; P = .0008 [Pc=.017]; OR, 0.22 [95% CI, 0.09-0.56]) than when asymptomatic patients were compared with patients who had mild CCC (i.e., patients with left-ventricular ejection fraction >40%) (χ2=7.7; P = .005 [Pc=.11]; OR, 0.33 [95% CI, 0.15-0.73]).


T. cruzi-infected individuals who are heterozygous for the MAL/TIRAP S180L variant that leads to a decrease in signal transduction upon ligation of TLR2 or TLR4 to their respective ligand may have a lower risk of developing CCC.

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