CD1 molecules can present microbial lipid Ag to T cells, suggesting that they participate in host defense against pathogens. In this study, we examined the role of CD1d in resistance to infection with the
Lyme disease spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb), an organism with proinflammatory lipid Ag. Bb infection of CD1d-deficient (CD1d(-/-)) mouse strains normally resistant to this pathogen resulted in arthritis. Pathology correlated with an increased prevalence of spirochete DNA in tissues and enhanced production of Bb-specific IgG, including IgG to Ag rapidly down-modulated on spirochetes in vivo. CD1d(-/-) mice exhibited high-titer Bb-specific IgG2a, an isotype commonly induced in
disease-susceptible mice but not in the
disease-resistant control mice in this study. These results show that CD1d deficiency impairs host resistance to a spirochete pathogen, and are the first example of a mutation that imparts Bb-resistant mice with the Ab and
disease profile of a susceptible mouse strain.