Development of a vaccine for the
Lyme disease spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi, has focused on the bacterial lipoprotein, major outer surface protein A (OspA). With few exceptions, testing of OspA vaccines in animal models has involved challenge with needle inoculation of cultured spirochetes. Recombinant OspA proteins from two OspA divergent strains of B. burgdorferi were tested for their vaccine potential in three different strains of mice challenged with laboratory reared ticks with a high rate of B. burgdorferi infection. All formulations of the B. burgdorferi sensu stricto derived OspA vaccine protected all strains of mice when challenged by ticks infected with an OspA homologous strain of the spirochete, whereas heterologous OspA from B. afzelii did not protect. Furthermore, ticks feeding on protected mice had reduced OspA levels compared to unvaccinated controls.