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Experimental infection of laboratory mice and rabbits with several isolates of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato; comparison of antigens from different genospecies in serological measurement of immune responses.

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Infectivity of and immune responses to 28 Finnish Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato isolates was studied in 3-4-week-old outbred NMRI and inbred BALB/c/Hy laboratory mice; rabbits were also inoculated. Twenty-one isolates were found to detectably infect mice. A variation among isolates in degree of infectivity was observed. Higher infection rate and higher average ELISA readings were recorded for intradermal than intraperitoneal inoculations. The results suggest differences between Borrelia genospecies in organotropism. The ear was frequently infected by representatives of all genospecies; among high infectivity experiments, this rate was highest, 100%, in infections by Borrelia afzelii. Further differences between genospecies specific organ distributions: B. burgdorferi sensu stricto and Borrelia garinii isolates seemed to infect the bladder relatively more frequently than B. afzelii did; B. afzelii isolates infected heart relatively more frequently than others did. Genospecies specific differences were demonstrated between antigens in reactivity, i.e. in their ‘sensitivity’ as reagents of ELISA and IFA methods to measure isolate specific immune responses. Antigens from two B. afzelii isolates differed clearly in sensitivity.

Comp Immunol Microbiol Infect Dis. 2002 Mar;25(2):109-25.

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