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Production of interleukin-10 (IL-10) by C57BL/6 mice following infection with Borrelia burgdorferi has been proposed as a mechanism whereby resistance to the development of experimental
Lyme arthritis is maintained. In the current study, we sought to determine the role of IL-10 during infection of arthritis- and carditis-susceptible C3H mice. Infection of C3H IL-10(-/-) mice led to increased joint swelling and arthritis severity scores over those of wild-type C3H mice. Measurement of B. burgdorferi numbers in joints or disseminated tissues indicated a more efficient clearance of spirochetes in the absence of IL-10, similar to that reported in C57BL/6 IL-10(-/-) mice. However, in contrast to previous in vitro work, infection of C3H IL-10(-/-) mice led to decreased in vivo expression of the cytokines KC, IL-1beta, IL-4, and IL-12p70 in the infected joints. Finally, adenoviral expression of IL-10 in the infected joints of C3H mice was unable to modulate the development of severe
Lyme arthritis and had no effect on spirochete clearance or Borrelia-specific antibody production. Development of
Lyme carditis appeared to be independent of modulation by IL-10. These results suggest that IL-10 limits the development of joint inflammation in both arthritis-resistant and -susceptible mouse strains infected with B. burgdorferi and that increased IL-10 production cannot rescue genetic susceptibility to development of pathology in this model.