Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato isolated from Ixodes ovatus (B. japonica), I. persulcatus and patients with erythema migrans (EM) in Japan were determined on infectivity and arthritis induction-activity in outbred mice. Infectivity of B. japonica was weak and did not induce the development of footpad swelling by subcutaneous (s.c.) inoculation into the footpad. Challenged strain, NO129-M of B. japonica, to ddY mice were reinoculated to the mice at various cell numbers (1 x 10-1 x 10(6) cells/mouse). The strain isolated from the mouse did not reinfect ddY mice and did not induce the production of specific antibody to the homologous strain. On the other hand, strains from I. persulcatus and patients with EM in Japan infected the mice and induced a serious inflammatory response in Borrelia-inoculated footpad as well as strains belonging to the three genospecies, B. burgdorferi sensu stricto, B. garinii, and B. afzelii, related to
Lyme disease, from North America and Europe. The mice were infected with 10 cells of strain HP1 isolated from I. persulcatus in Hokkaido and of strain 297 isolated from a patient in the U.S.A. by subcutaneous inoculation into the hind footpad, or by intradermal inoculation into the back. Antigens of ca. 20, 23-24 (Osp C), 29, 39, 41 (flagellin) and 45 kDa reacted with the pooled sera from mice inoculated with strains HP1 and 297, but Osp A and Osp B did not.