We found that Borrelia burgdorferi-vaccinated gamma interferon-deficient (IFN-gamma(0)) mice challenged with B. burgdorferi developed prominent chronic destructive osteoarthropathy. When these mice were treated with anti-tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) antibody, the severity of the destructive osteoarthritis was enhanced and affected the mobility of the animals. In addition, extensive swelling of the hind paws occurred. In contrast, treatment of B. burgdorferi-vaccinated, challenged IFN-gamma(0) mice with recombinant TNF-alpha (rTNF-alpha) inhibited the development of arthritis, including swelling of the hind paws. Moreover, treatment of vaccinated, challenged IFN-gamma(0) mice with anti-TNF-alpha inhibited fourfold the production of an antibody that kills B. burgdorferi, while treatment of vaccinated, challenged IFN-gamma(0) mice with rTNF-alpha slightly elevated the level of the borreliacidal antibody. These results suggest that the level of TNF-alpha directly or indirectly regulates the production of borreliacidal antibody and the development of vaccine-induced destructive
Lyme osteoarthritis. Studies are in progress to determine the mechanism by which TNF-alpha-dependent cytokines generate the destructive arthritis.