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Lyme borreliosis, the skin is the key site of bacterial inoculation by the infected tick, and of cutaneous manifestations, erythema migrans and acrodermatitis chronica atrophicans. We explored the role of fibroblasts, the resident cells of the dermis, in the development of the
disease. Using microarray experiments, we compared the inflammation of fibroblasts induced by three strains of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto isolated from different environments and stages of
Lyme disease: N40 (tick), Pbre (erythema migrans) and 1408 (acrodermatitis chronica atrophicans). The three strains exhibited a similar profile of inflammation with strong induction of chemokines (CXCL1 and IL-8) and IL-6 cytokine mainly involved in the chemoattraction of immune cells. Molecules such as TNF-alpha and NF-?B factors, metalloproteinases (MMP-1, -3 and -12) and superoxide dismutase (SOD2), also described in inflammatory and cellular events, were up-regulated. In addition, we showed that tick salivary gland extracts induce a cytotoxic effect on fibroblasts and that OspC, essential in the transmission of Borrelia to the vertebrate host, was not responsible for the secretion of inflammatory molecules by fibroblasts. Tick saliva components could facilitate the early transmission of the
disease to the site of injury creating a feeding pit. Later in the development of the
disease, Borrelia would intensively multiply in the skin and further disseminate to distant organs.