Neurological symptoms are common manifestations of
Lyme disease; however, the paucibacillary nature of the spirochete in this environment has precluded a molecular analysis of the spirochete in the CNS. We have now adapted differential expression analysis by using a custom-amplified library (DECAL) in conjunction with Borrelia burgdorferi whole-genome and subgenome arrays to examine in vivo gene expression by B. burgdorferi in a non-human primate (NHP) model of neuroborreliosis. The expression profile of B. burgdorferi was examined in the CNS and heart of steroid-treated and immunocompetent NHPs. Eighty-six chromosomal genes and 80 plasmid-encoded genes were expressed at similar levels in the CNS and heart tissue of both immunocompetent and steroid-treated NHPs. The expression of 66 chromosomal genes and 32 plasmid-encoded genes was increased in the CNS of both immunocompetent and steroid-treated NHPs. It is likely that the expression of these genes is governed by physiological factors specific to the CNS milieu. However, 83 chromosomal and 114 plasmid-encoded genes showed contrasting expression profiles in steroid-treated and immunocompetent NHPs. The effect of dexamethasone on the immune status of the host as well as on the host metabolic pathways could contribute to these differences in the B. burgdorferi transcriptome. Results obtained herein underscore the complex interplay of host factors on B. burgdorferi gene expression in vivo. The results provide a global snapshot of the spirochetal transcriptome in the CNS and should spur the design of experiments aimed at understanding the molecular basis of neuroborreliosis.