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Demonstration of antigen-specific T cells and histopathological alterations in mice experimentally inoculated with Borrelia burgdorferi.

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Antigen-specific T-cell responses and histopathological changes were studied in mice experimentally inoculated with Borrelia burgdorferi B31. Inbred mice with different H-2 haplotypes and/or different genetic backgrounds were inoculated with B. burgdorferi organisms and tested for antigen-specific T-cell responses in vivo (delayed-type hypersensitivity [DTH]) and in vitro (T-cell proliferation). Comparable DTH responses were found after inoculation with either inactivated (in the presence of adjuvants) or viable microorganisms in all mouse strains, except BALB/c, irrespective of the H-2 haplotype (b, d, k, or s) tested and the sex of the animals. Moreover, in mice presensitized to B. burgdorferi, DTH responses could be induced only with antigen preparations derived from the corresponding strain but not with those obtained from either related spirochetes such as Treponema phagedenis and Leptospira interrogans or unrelated bacteria such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis. T cells isolated from lymph nodes or spleens of mice previously sensitized to B. burgdorferi but not those from naïve mice could be induced for antigen-specific proliferation in vitro, as revealed by [3H]thymidine incorporation. Histopathological examination of mice inoculated with viable B. burgdorferi organisms revealed significant perivascular infiltrates consisting mainly of mononuclear and a few polymorphonuclear leukocytes in different organs (brain, heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys) and the appearance of giant multinucleated cells within the spleen similar to those found in human skin specimens of patients suffering from cutaneous manifestations of
Lyme disease. Our findings suggest that mice are a suitable animal model with which to study the immune response to B. burgdorferi and the pathogenesis of
Lyme disease.

Infect Immun. 1989 Jan;57(1):41-7. Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov’t

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