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T helper cell priming of mice to Borrelia burgdorferi OspA leads to induction of protective antibodies following experimental but not tick-borne infection.

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Abstract

Antibodies to the outer surface lipoprotein A (OspA) of Borrelia burgdorferi confer protection to SCID mice against subsequent tick-borne or experimental infection. However, OspA-specific antibodies are hardly detectable in naturally infected humans, dogs, hamsters and mice. This is most probably due to limited expression of OspA on spirochetes transmitted from the vector to the host. Here we have tested whether T cell priming of mice would lead to the induction of protective OspA-specific antibodies upon infection. It is shown that AKR/N mice, previously immunized with either a single T helper cell peptide of OspA, or a mixture of 27 peptides spanning the entire molecule, develop OspA-specific IgM or IgG antibodies, including those to a prominent protective B cell epitope of OspA. LA-2, within 7 days of infection with low doses (10(3)) of culture-derived spirochetes. In marked contrast, the same groups of pre-sensitized mice failed to generate any detectable OspA-specific antibodies after tick-borne infection for more than 40 days after infection. All mice, irrespective of their state of T cell immunity to OspA or the mode of infection, produced similar levels of OspC-specific IgM and IgG antibodies as early as day 14 after infection. None of the mice previously immunized with OspA peptides were protected against experimental infection, in spite of the appearance of protective antibodies. It is clear from these data that, in contrast to culture-derived spirochetes, the naturally transmitted pathogen fails to express OspA within the mammalian host at levels sufficient for induction of B cell responses, even in the presence of pre-activated T helper cells. Together with the fact that OspA-specific antibodies are mainly operative by eliminating spirochetes from the vector during infestation, the data suggest that OspA-vaccination for T helper cell immunity alone is not sufficient to prevent
Lyme disease.

Eur J Immunol. 1997 Nov;27(11):2942-7. Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov’t

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