What You Need To Know About CD57 Markers

A recent breakthrough in diagnosing and treating Lyme disease may make it much easier to predict how the condition will play out in individual patients with chronic symptoms. That discovery is the CD57 marker and how it pertains to Lyme disease. Read on to find out what you need to know about CD57 markers.

Lyme disease diagnosis and treatment

Lyme disease is a tricky bacterial infection. Treating a Lyme infection, which is caused by the borrelia bacteria, is something of a “wait-and-see” operation. Antibiotics can treat the initial and acute infection, but they don’t always work as well as they should. Some people also fail to receive treatment, leading to long-term issues. People with the disease can develop chronic Lyme, with symptoms lasting months or even years following the initial infection.

Thankfully, the diagnosis of Lyme disease isn’t always as difficult as treatment. Unfortunately, the tools used to determine if someone has Lyme can’t predict whether the bacteria will continue to affect someone on a long-term scale – i.e. whether they’re likely to experience a relapse in symptoms or if they will fully recover. However, CD57 markers may be able to change the face of Lyme disease diagnosis and treatment in future.

Image by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash: How do you interpret CD57 results?

What is a CD57 marker?

To understand what a CD57 marker is, we need to drill down to the biology of the immune system. White blood cells, which fight off infection and disease, exist as part of the immune system to keep the body healthy. There are two groupings of white blood cells: granulocytes and mononuclear leukocytes. Within the mononuclear leukocytes category are two more categories known as monocytes and lymphocytes. These B- and T-cells (or “natural killer cells”) create antibodies in response to infection and attack specific antigens, respectively.

Each of these cells has its own markers, much like each person has characteristics specific to them. CD markers are glycoprotein molecules, one of many that can exist on white blood cells. CD means cluster designation. There are many types of CDs, each numbered. CD57 is simply a specific type of CD marker that can be found on the surface of cells.

In Lyme disease, the CD57 marker can be used to see how the borrelia bacteria affects the cells of the immune system – more specifically, natural killer cells.

What are CD57 markers used for?

Recently, Dr. Raphael Stricker and Dr. Edward Winger made a discovery regarding CD57 and Lyme disease. Lyme patients tend to have lower levels of CD57 markers than those without the condition. Furthermore, when people with Lyme disease undergo effective treatment, their marker levels rise. It has yet to be discovered why the presence of Lyme disease causes the count of CD57 markers to be reduced, but it has been shown in enough patients to be used as a tool of sorts. When looking to diagnose or treat Lyme disease, doctors can take a blood test from people with Lyme and check for their CD57 marker levels on natural killer cells.

This discovery is crucial for Lyme disease patients because the symptoms that develop in the condition are often so much like other diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and Multiple sclerosis (MS), that they can be mistaken for one another. Because of this, people with both diseases may wait longer for a definitive diagnosis and treatment. However, in people with autoimmune diseases such as RA and MS, CD57 markers on natural killer cells are not lower. This gives medical providers a chance to differentiate between the two conditions more easily.

What should your CD57 be?

In healthy individuals, there is a standard level of CD57 markers on white blood cells. Typically, a normal range stands between 60 and 360 cells per microliter of blood when testing the CD57 count on natural killer cells. While this spectrum appears to be relatively wide, it was found to be the baseline after tests were run on many healthy patients to check what CD57 counts were. 

Image by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash: What does a high CD57 mean?

What does low CD57 indicate?

If a person’s CD57 marker count falls below 60, further tests for Lyme disease should be conducted. Using the test for CD57 markers is not be the be-all and end-all when diagnosing the condition, but rather a helpful tool that can help rule out other diseases and point medical providers in the right direction for treatment.

The marker can also be used to see how well treatment is working during the course of the disease. When the numbers are down, infection is considered active, so if a patient’s CD57 count remains low, chances are a new treatment avenue must be taken to encourage recovery.

In some cases, a person may experience higher than normal levels of CD57. That means that they have too many natural killer cells in the body. If that occurs, it is not indicative of Lyme disease but can signify another type of disease.

After discovering that CD57 natural killer cell counts are lowered by the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, medical providers can now use this to further progress Lyme disease treatment. By doing so, they can help more people with chronic Lyme disease find a way to recover.

Featured image by Misael Moreno on Unsplash

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