Because of an association of human neuroborreliosis with the development of an antibody response against an antigen in neural tissue that cross-reacts with an epitope on the flagellin protein of Borrelia burgdorferi, C3H transgenic mice were created that expressed the flagellin epitope (amino acids 213-224) as a fusion protein with myelin basic protein. The transgenic mice expressed the flagellin epitope selectively in myelinated regions of the nervous system. Both transgenic and non-transgenic mice developed an antibody response to the flagellin epitope during B. burgdorferi infection and both developed arthritis and carditis. However, no lesions were found in the central nervous system of either type of mouse for up to 8 weeks after infection. The data indicate that expression of the flagellin 213-24 epitope in mice does not result in neurologic
disease, suggesting that B. burgdorferi flagellin antibodies may not be directly implicated in neuroborreliosis.