Persistence of Borrelia burgdorferi in Rhesus Macaques following Antibiotic Treatment of Disseminated Infection
– Source: PloS One, Jan 11, 2012
By Monica E Embers, Mario T Philipp, et al.
The persistence of symptoms in Lyme disease patients following antibiotic therapy, and their causes, continue to be a matter of intense controversy. The studies presented here explore antibiotic efficacy using nonhuman primates.
Rhesus macaques were infected with B. burgdorferi and a portion received aggressive antibiotic therapy 4 to 6 months later.
Multiple methods were utilized for detection of residual organisms, including the feeding of lab-reared ticks on monkeys (xenodiagnosis), culture, immunofluorescence and PCR.
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• Antibody responses to the B. burgdorferi-specific C6 diagnostic peptide were measured longitudinally and declined in all treated animals.
• B. burgdorferi antigen, DNA and RNA were detected in the tissues of treated animals.
• Finally, small numbers of intact spirochetes were recovered by xenodiagnosis from treated monkeys.
These results demonstrate that B. burgdorferi can withstand antibiotic treatment, administered post-dissemination, in a primate host.
Though B. burgdorferi is not known to possess resistance mechanisms and is susceptible to the standard antibiotics (doxycycline, ceftriaxone) in vitro [in lab samples], it appears to become tolerant post-dissemination in the primate host.
This finding raises important questions about the pathogenicity of antibiotic-tolerant persisters and whether or not they can contribute to symptoms post-treatment.
Source: PloS One, Jan 11, 2012 Doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0029914, by Embers ME, Barthods SW, Borda JT, Bowers L, Doyle L, Hodzic E, Jacobs MB, Hasenkampf NR, Martin DS, Narasimhan S, Phillippi-Falkenstein KM, Purcell JE, Ratterree MS, Philipp MT. Divisions of Bacteriology & Parasitology, Comparative Pathology and Veterinary Medicine, Tulane National Primate Research Center, Tulane University Health Sciences Center, Covington, Louisiana; Center for Comparative Medicine, Schools of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, University of California Davis, Davis, California; Section of Rheumatology, Department of Internal Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA. [Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and Philipp@tulane.edu]