Lyme borreliosis in rhesus macaques: effects of corticosteroids on spirochetal load and isotype switching of anti-borrelia burgdorferi antibody

Clinical and Diagnostic Laboratory Immunology
A R PachnerW F Zhang


Experimental Borrelia burgdorferi infection of rhesus monkeys is an excellent model of Lyme disease and closely parallels the infection in humans. Little is known about the interaction of host immunity with the spirochete in patients with chronic infection. We hypothesized that rapid development of anti-B. burgdorferi antibody in immunocompetent nonhuman primates (NHPs) is the major determinant of the reduction of the spirochetal load in Lyme borreliosis. This hypothesis was tested by measurement of the spirochetal load by PCR in association with characterization of the anti-B. burgdorferi humoral immune response in immunocompetent NHPs versus that in corticosteroid-treated NHPs. Although anti-B. burgdorferi immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibody was effectively inhibited in dexamethasone (Dex)-treated NHPs, anti-B. burgdorferi IgM antibody levels continued to rise after the first month and reached levels in excess of IgM levels in immunocompetent NHPs. This vigorous production of anti-B. burgdorferi IgM antibodies was also studied in vitro by measurement of antibody produced by B. burgdorferi-stimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Despite these high IgM antispirochetal antibodies in Dex-treated NHPs, spirochetal loads were mu...Continue Reading


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