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We showed that Borrelia burgdorferi-vaccinated interferon gamma-deficient (IFN-gamma(0)) mice challenged with the
Lyme spirochete developed a prominent chronic severe destructive osteoarthropathy. The immune response underlying the development of the severe destructive arthritis involves interleukin-17 (IL-17). Treatment of vaccinated IFN-gamma(0) mice challenged with B. burgdorferi with anti-IL-17 antibody delayed the onset of swelling of the hind paws but, more importantly, inhibited the development of arthritis. Histopathologic examination confirmed that treatment with anti-IL-17 antibody prevented the destructive arthropathy seen in vaccinated and challenged IFN-gamma(0) mice. Similar preventive results were obtained when vaccinated and challenged IFN-gamma(0) mice were treated with anti-IL-17 receptor antibody or sequentially with anti-IL-17 antibody followed by anti-IL-17 receptor antibody. By contrast, treatment of vaccinated and challenged IFN-gamma(0) mice with recombinant IL-17 (rIL-17) did not alter the development and progression of arthritis found in vaccinated and challenged IFN-gamma(0) mice without treatment with rIL-17. Therapeutic intervention may be a realistic approach to prevent arthritis, especially if IL-17 is involved in the perpetuation of chronic or intermittent arthritis.