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Nitric oxide (NO) is a powerful antimicrobial agent and an important regulatory molecule of the innate immune response. To determine if NO has a role in experimental
Lyme disease, arthritis-resistant DBA/2J and arthritis-susceptible C3H/HeJ mice were bred to be genetically deficient for inducible NO synthase (iNOS). Following footpad injection of Borrelia burgdorferi, arthritis was similar between iNOS-deficient and control animals regardless of their genetic background. Histologic examination and arthritis severity scores of ankles revealed no differences in arthritis development between iNOS-deficient and control animals. Despite being deficient in a key antimicrobial agent, iNOS-deficient mice had tissue levels of B. burgdorferi similar to those in control mice. Thus, NO does not have a critical role in susceptibility to
Lyme arthritis through tissue damage via an overexuberant inflammatory response, nor is it required in resistance through the clearance of spirochetes from tissues.