Subscribe to the World's Most Popular Newsletter (it's free!)
Reports of the presence of Borrelia burgdorferi DNA in malignant lymphomas have raised the hypothesis that infection with B. burgdorferi may be causally related to non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) development. We conducted a Danish-Swedish case-control study including 3055 NHL patients and 3187 population controls. History of tick bite or Borrelia infection was ascertained through structured telephone interviews and through enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay serum analyses for antibodies against B. burgdorferi in a subset of 1579 patients and 1358 controls. Statistical associations with risk of NHL, including histologic subtypes, were assessed by logistic regression. Overall risk of NHL was not associated with self-reported history of tick bite (odds ratio [OR] = 1.0; 95% confidence interval: 0.9-1.1), Borrelia infection (OR = 1.3 [0.96-1.8]) or the presence of anti-Borrelia antibodies (OR = 1.3 [0.9-2.0]). However, in analyses of NHL subtypes, self-reported history of B. burgdorferi infection (OR = 2.5 [1.2-5.1]) and seropositivity for anti-Borrelia antibodies (OR = 3.6 [1.8-7.4]) were both associated with risk of mantle cell lymphoma. Notably, this specific association was also observed in persons who did not recall Borrelia infection yet tested positive for anti-Borrelia antibodies (OR = 4.2 [2.0-8.9]). Our observations suggest a previously unreported association between B. burgdorferi infection and risk of mantle cell lymphoma.