Circumvention of outer surface protein A immunity by host-adapted Borrelia burgdorferi

Stephen W Barthold, E. Fikrig, L. K. Bockenstedt, D. H. Persing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


Outer surface protein A (OspA), which is abundantly expressed in cultured Borrelia burgdorferi, appears to be down-regulated or masked following low- dose infection, and OspA immunization did not prevent infection, dissemination, or disease development with host-adapted spirochetes. Seroconversion of mice to B. burgdorferi OspA depended on dose and viability of inoculated spirochetes. Mice inoculated with >104 live spirochetes and >107 heat-killed spirochetes seroconverted to OspA, but mice inoculated with fewer spirochetes did not seroconvert to OspA at 2 weeks after inoculation. Growth temperature of spirochetes was not a factor for infectious dose or seroconversion to OspA. Spirochetes grown at 30, 34, or 38°C had the same median infectious dose. Growth temperature did not influence infections dose when mice were inoculated intraperitoneally or intradermally and did not influence dose-related immunologic recognition of OspA. Mice hyperimmunized with recombinant OspA-glutathione S-transferase (GT) fusion protein or GT (controls) were challenged by syringe inoculation with 103 spirochetes or by transplantation of infected skin from syngeneic mice infected for 2 or 8 weeks. OspA-GT-immunized mice resisted syringe challenge but developed disseminated infections following transplantation of infected skin. Identical results were obtained in mice passively immunized with hyperimmune serum to OspA-GT or GT and then challenged by syringe or infected skin transplant. The number of spirochetes in infected skin, determined by quantitative PCR directed toward both plasmid and genomic targets, was less than the syringe challenge dose.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2255-2261
Number of pages7
JournalInfection and Immunity
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology


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