Central and peripheral nervous system infection, immunity, and inflammation in the NHP model of Lyme borreliosis

Andrew R. Pachner, Diego Cadavid, Gale Shu, Donna Dail, Sarah Pachner, Emir Hodzic, Stephen W Barthold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


The relationship between chronic infection, antispirochetal immunity, and inflammation is unknown in Lyme neuroborreliosis. In the nonhuman primate model of Lyme neuroborreliosis, we measured spirochetal density in the nervous system and other tissues by polymerase chain reaction and correlated these values to anti-Borrelia burgdorferi antibody in the serum and cerebrospinal fluid, and to inflammation in tissues. Despite substantial presence of Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme borreliosis, in the central nervous system, only minor inflammation was present there, though skeletal and cardiac muscle, which contained similar levels of spirochete, were highly inflamed. Anti-Borrelia burgdorferi antibody was present in the cerebrospinal fluid but was not selectively concentrated. All infected animals developed anti-Borrelia burgdorferi antibody in the serum, but increased amplitude of antibody was not predictive of higher levels of infection. These data demonstrate that Lyme neuroborreliosis is a persistent infection, that spirochetal presence is a necessary but not sufficient condition for inflammation, and that antibody measured in serum may not predict the severity of infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)330-338
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of Neurology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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