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Up-regulation of inducible nitric oxide synthase mRNA in dogs experimentally infected with Borrelia burgdorferi.

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The up-regulation of the inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) mRNA was determined by RT-PCR in 25 tissues each from 22 specific pathogen-free (SPF) dogs experimentally infected with Borrelia burgdorferi by tick exposure and from five uninfected control dogs. Using primers specific for a homologous region of the human and canine iNOS sequence, and canine macrophage mRNA, we isolated and partially sequenced canine iNOS. A sequence of 1775 bases was obtained and primers specific for canine iNOS mRNA constructed to investigate the expression of iNOS in dog tissues in response to infection with B. burgdorferi. In 12 out of 22 dogs infected with B. burgdorferi, acute lameness occurred within 55-82 days after infection whereas the other 10 dogs showed no or only mild clinical signs despite persistent infection up to Day 175. The numbers of iNOS mRNA-positive tissues in dogs with acute lameness were significantly higher than in dogs without lameness, while uninfected dogs showed only negligible iNOS expression. Dogs with acute lameness also had higher numbers of borrelia-positive tissues as well as higher scores in histopathological evaluations than infected dogs without lameness. Our results show that the expression of iNOS mRNA is related to the number of B. burgdorferi-positive tissues and the severity of inflammation as assessed by histopathology. These results implicate an up-regulation of the iNOS mRNA as part of the host’s immune response to borrelia infection and a possible role for NO in the pathogenesis of canine
Lyme arthritis.

Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 1999 Feb 22;67(3):271-84. Research Support, U.S. Gov’t, P.H.S.

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