Coinfection with Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto and Borrelia garinii alters the course of murine Lyme borreliosis

Joppe W R Hovius, Xin Li, Nandhini Ramamoorthi, Alje P. Van Dam, Stephen W Barthold, Tom Van Der Poll, Peter Speelman, Erol Fikrig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Ixodes ricinus ticks and mice can be infected with both Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto and Borrelia garinii. The effect of coinfection with these two Borrelia species on the development of murine Lyme borreliosis is unknown. Therefore, we investigated whether coinfection with the nonarthritogenic B. garinii strain PBi and the arthritogenic B. burgdorferi sensu stricto strain B31 alters murine Lyme borreliosis. Mice simultaneously infected with PBi and B31 showed significantly more paw swelling and arthritis, long-standing spirochetemia, and higher numbers of B31 spirochetes than did mice infected with B31 alone. However, the number of PBi spirochetes was significantly lower in coinfected mice than in mice infected with PBi alone. In conclusion, simultaneous infection with B. garinii and B. burgdorferi sensu stricto results in more severe Lyme borreliosis. Moreover, we suggest that competition of the two Borrelia species within the reservoir host could have led to preferential maintenance, and a rising prevalence, of B. burgdorferi sensu stricto in European I. ricinus populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)224-234
Number of pages11
JournalFEMS Immunology and Medical Microbiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2007


  • Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto
  • Borrelia garinii
  • Coinfection
  • Lyme disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Microbiology
  • Infectious Diseases


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