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The clinical manifestations of human
Lyme disease present with a spectrum of tissue or organ involvement and severity of symptoms. The murine model of
Lyme disease has proved to be an accurate reflection of many of the human symptoms of
disease and has been particularly useful for studying development of subacute arthritis and tendonitis. Direct tissue invasion by Borrelia burgdorferi and persistence of high levels of spirochetes in tissues are important components of arthritis development. The outer-surface lipoproteins contain a biologically active lipid-modified moiety with potent ability to stimulate inflammatory cytokine production and other inflammatory mediators such as nitric oxide. Localized inflammation stimulated by these lipoproteins may be the trigger for neutrophil infiltration, synovial proliferation, and other events associated with this arthritis. Invasion of maternal uterine tissue, but not direct invasion of fetal tissue, is associated with low levels of pregnancy loss in mice infected during gestation, consistent with the detrimental effect of inflammatory cytokines on pregnancy.