ResearchPad - borrelia-infection https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[The intergenic small non-coding RNA <i>ittA</i> is required for optimal infectivity and tissue tropism in <i>Borrelia burgdorferi</i>]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_14635 Lyme disease is a tick-borne infection mediated by the spirochetal bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, that is responsible for greater than 300,000 infections in the United States per year. As such, additional knowledge regarding how this pathogen modulates its regulatory armamentarium is needed to understand how B. burgdorferi establishes and maintains infection. The identification and characterization of small, non-coding RNA molecules in living systems, designated as sRNAs, has recalibrated how we view post-transcriptional regulation. Recently, over 1,000 sRNAs were identified in B. burgdorferi. Despite the identification of these sRNAs, we do not understand how they affect infectivity or B. burgdorferi pathogenesis related outcomes. Here, we characterize the ittA B. burgdorferi sRNA and show that it is essential for optimal infection using murine experimental infection as our readout. We also track the effect of this sRNA on the transcriptional and proteomic profile as the first step in providing mechanistic insight into how this important sRNA mediates its regulatory effect.

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<![CDATA[Optimization of tissue sampling for Borrelia burgdorferi in white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/Nff220985-8630-4822-8507-6b577103a931

Peromyscus leucopus (the white-footed mouse) is a known reservoir of the Lyme disease spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi. Sampling of white-footed mice allows for year-round B. burgdorferi surveillance as well as opportunities to establish the diversity of the different variants in a geographic region. This study explores the prevalence of B. burgdorferi infections in the tissues of white-footed mice, investigates the correlations between B. burgdorferi infected tissues, and determines the optimum field methods for surveillance of B. burgdorferi in P. leucopus. A total of 90 mice and 573 tissues (spleen, liver, ear, tongue, tail, heart, and kidney) were screened via nested PCR for B. burgdorferi infections. A large number of infections were found in the 90 mice as well as multiple infections within individual mice. Infections in a single mouse tissue (spleen, liver, ear, tongue and tail) were predictive of concurrent infection in other tissues of the same mouse at a statistically significant level. Ear tissue accounted for 68.4% of detected infections, which increased to 78.9% of the infected mice with the inclusion of tail samples. The use of ear punch or tail snip samples (used individually or in tandem) have multiple advantages over current Lyme disease ecological studies and surveillance methodologies, including lower associated costs, minimization of delays, year-round B. burgdorferi testing opportunities, as well as longitudinal monitoring of B. burgdorferi in defined geographic regions. In the absence of an effective vaccine, personal prevention measures are currently the most effective way to reduce Lyme disease transmission to humans. Thus, the identification and monitoring of environmental reservoirs to inform at-risk populations remains a priority. The sampling methods proposed in this study provide a reasonable estimate of B. burgdorferi in white-footed mice in a timely and cost-effective manner.

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<![CDATA[Detection of municipalities at-risk of Lyme disease using passive surveillance of Ixodes scapularis as an early signal: A province-specific indicator in Canada]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c75ac66d5eed0c484d086db

Lyme disease, the most commonly reported vector-borne disease in North America, is caused by the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto, which is transmitted by Ixodes scapularis in eastern Canada and Ixodes pacificus in western Canada. Recently, the northward range expansion of I. scapularis ticks, in south-eastern Canada, has resulted in a dramatic increase in the incidence of human Lyme disease. Detecting emerging areas of Lyme disease risk allows public health to target disease prevention efforts. We analysed passive tick surveillance data from Ontario and Manitoba to i) assess the relationship between the total numbers of I. scapularis submissions in passive surveillance from humans, and the number of human Lyme disease cases, and ii) develop province-specific acarological indicators of risk that can be used to generate surveillance-based risk maps. We also assessed associations between numbers of nymphal I. scapularis tick submissions only and Lyme disease case incidence. Using General Estimating Equation regression, the relationship between I. scapularis submissions (total numbers and numbers of nymphs only) in each census sub-division (CSD) and the number of reported Lyme disease cases was positively correlated and highly significant in the two provinces (P ≤ 0.001). The numbers of I. scapularis submissions over five years discriminated CSDs with ≥ 3 Lyme disease cases from those with < 3 cases with high accuracy when using total numbers of tick submission (Receiver Operating Characteristics area under the curve [AUC] = 0.89) and moderate accuracy (AUC = 0.78) when using nymphal tick submissions only. In Ontario the optimal cut-off point was a total 12 tick submissions from a CSD over five years (Sensitivity = 0.82, Specificity = 0.84), while in Manitoba the cut-off point was five ticks (Sensitivity = 0.71, Specificity = 0.79) suggesting regional variability of the risk of acquiring Lyme disease from an I. scapularis bite. The performances of the acarological indicators developed in this study for Ontario and Manitoba support the ability of passive tick surveillance to provide an early signal of the existence Lyme disease risk areas in regions where ticks and the pathogens they transmit are expanding their range.

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<![CDATA[The growing importance of lone star ticks in a Lyme disease endemic county: Passive tick surveillance in Monmouth County, NJ, 2006 – 2016]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c6c75cbd5eed0c4843d01e0

As human cases of tick-borne disease continue to increase, there is a heightened imperative to collect data on human-tick encounters to inform disease prevention. Passive tick surveillance programs that encourage members of the public to submit ticks they have encountered can provide a relatively low-cost means of collecting such data. We report the results of 11 years of tick submissions (2006–2016) collected in Monmouth County, New Jersey, an Atlantic coastal county long endemic for Lyme disease. A total of 8,608 ticks acquired in 22 U.S. states were submitted, 89.7% of which were acquired in Monmouth County, from 52 of the County’s 53 municipalities. Seasonal submission rates reflected known phenology of common human-biting ticks, but annual submissions of both Amblyomma americanum and Dermacentor variabilis increased significantly over time while numbers of Ixodes scapularis remained static. By 2016, A. americanum had expanded northward in the county and now accounted for nearly half (48.1%) of submissions, far outpacing encounters with I. scapularis (28.2% of submissions). Across all tick species and stages the greatest number of ticks were removed from children (ages 0–9, 40.8%) and older adults (ages 50+, 23.8%) and these age groups were also more likely to submit partially or fully engorged ticks, suggesting increased risk of tick-borne disease transmission to these vulnerable age groups. Significantly more people (43.2%) reported acquiring ticks at their place of residence than in a park or natural area (17.9%). This pattern was more pronounced for residents over 60 years of age (72.7% acquired at home). Education that stresses frequent tick checks should target older age groups engaged in activity around the home. Our results strongly suggest that encounter rates with ticks other than I. scapularis are substantial and increasing and that their role in causing human illness should be carefully investigated.

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<![CDATA[Association of small fiber neuropathy and post treatment Lyme disease syndrome]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c6c75a6d5eed0c4843cff72

Objectives

To examine whether post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS) defined by fatigue, cognitive complaints and widespread pain following the treatment of Lyme disease is associated with small fiber neuropathy (SFN) manifesting as autonomic and sensory dysfunction.

Methods

This single center, retrospective study evaluated subjects with PTLDS. Skin biopsies for assessment of epidermal nerve fiber density (ENFD), sweat gland nerve fiber density (SGNFD) and functional autonomic testing (deep breathing, Valsalva maneuver and tilt test) were performed to assess SFN, severity of dysautonomia and cerebral blood flow abnormalities. Heart rate, end tidal CO2, blood pressure, and cerebral blood flow velocity (CBFv) from middle cerebral artery using transcranial Doppler were monitored.

Results

10 participants, 5/5 women/men, age 51.3 ± 14.7 years, BMI 27.6 ± 7.3 were analyzed. All participants were positive for Lyme infection by CDC criteria. At least one skin biopsy was abnormal in all ten participants. Abnormal ENFD was found in 9 participants, abnormal SGNFD in 5 participants, and both abnormal ENFD and SGNFD were detected in 4 participants. Parasympathetic failure was found in 7 participants and mild or moderate sympathetic adrenergic failure in all participants. Abnormal total CBFv score was found in all ten participants. Low orthostatic CBFv was found in 7 participants, three additional participants had abnormally reduced supine CBFv.

Conclusions

SFN appears to be associated with PTLDS and may be responsible for certain sensory symptoms. In addition, dysautonomia related to SFN and abnormal CBFv also seem to be linked to PTLDS. Reduced orthostatic CBFv can be associated with cerebral hypoperfusion and may lead to cognitive dysfunction. Autonomic failure detected in PTLDS is mild to moderate. SFN evaluation may be useful in PTLDS.

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<![CDATA[The economic burden of Lyme disease and the cost-effectiveness of Lyme disease interventions: A scoping review]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c390bc8d5eed0c48491e514

Introduction

While Lyme disease (LD) is mostly treatable, misdiagnosed or untreated LD can result in debilitating sequelae and excessive healthcare usage. The objective of this review was to characterize the body of literature on the economic burden of Lyme disease (LD) and the cost-effectiveness of LD interventions, such as antibiotic treatment and vaccination.

Methods

We followed Joanna Briggs Institute scoping review methodologies. We systematically searched terms related to LD, economic evaluations, costs, and cost-effectiveness in Medline, Embase, PsycInfo, Cochrane Library, and the grey literature up to November 2017. We included primary economic evaluations conducted in North America and Europe, reporting LD-related costs or cost-effectiveness of human interventions. Two reviewers screened articles and charted data independently. Costs were standardized to 2017 United States dollars (USD).

Results

We screened 923 articles, and included 10 cost-effectiveness analyses (CEA) and 11 cost analyses (CA). Three CEAs concluded LD vaccination was likely cost-effective only in endemic areas (probability of infection ≥1%). However, LD vaccination is not currently available as an intervention in the US or Europe. Six studies assessed economic burden from a societal perspective and estimated significant annual national economic impact of: 735,550 USD for Scotland (0.14 USD per capita, population = 5.40M), 142,562 USD in Sweden (0.014 USD per capita, 9.96M), 40.88M USD in Germany (0.51 USD per capita, 80.59M), 23.12M USD in the Netherlands (1.36 USD per capita, 17.08M), and up to 786M USD in the US (2.41 USD per capita, 326.63M).

Conclusions

Lyme disease imposes an economic burden that could be considered significant in the US and other developed countries to justify further research efforts in disease control and management. Societal costs for Lyme disease can be equally impactful as healthcare costs, but are not fully understood. Economic literature from countries with historically high incidence rates or increasing rates of Lyme disease are limited, and can be useful for future justification of resource allocation.

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<![CDATA[Head Lice of Pygmies Reveal the Presence of Relapsing Fever Borreliae in the Republic of Congo]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db2aab0ee8fa60bd12a7

Background

Head lice, Pediculus humanus capitis, occur in four divergent mitochondrial clades (A, B, C and D), each having particular geographical distributions. Recent studies suggest that head lice, as is the case of body lice, can act as a vector for louse-borne diseases. Therefore, understanding the genetic diversity of lice worldwide is of critical importance to our understanding of the risk of louse-borne diseases.

Methodology/Principal Findings

Here, we report the results of the first molecular screening of pygmies’ head lice in the Republic of Congo for seven pathogens and an analysis of lice mitochondrial clades. We developed two duplex clade-specific real-time PCRs and identified three major mitochondrial clades: A, C, and D indicating high diversity among the head lice studied. We identified the presence of a dangerous human pathogen, Borrelia recurrentis, the causative agent of relapsing fever, in ten clade A head lice, which was not reported in the Republic of Congo, and B. theileri in one head louse. The results also show widespread infection among head lice with several species of Acinetobacter. A. junii was the most prevalent, followed by A. ursingii, A. baumannii, A. johnsonii, A. schindleri, A. lwoffii, A. nosocomialis and A. towneri.

Conclusions/Significance

Our study is the first to show the presence of B. recurrentis in African pygmies’ head lice in the Republic of Congo. This study is also the first to report the presence of DNAs of B. theileri and several species of Acinetobacter in human head lice. Further studies are needed to determine whether the head lice can transmit these pathogenic bacteria from person to another.

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<![CDATA[Influences of Host Community Characteristics on Borrelia burgdorferi Infection Prevalence in Blacklegged Ticks]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da0aab0ee8fa60b7762b

Lyme disease is a major vector-borne bacterial disease in the USA. The disease is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, and transmitted among hosts and humans, primarily by blacklegged ticks (Ixodes scapularis). The ~25 B. burgdorferi genotypes, based on genotypic variation of their outer surface protein C (ospC), can be phenotypically separated as strains that primarily cause human diseases—human invasive strains (HIS)—or those that rarely do. Additionally, the genotypes are non-randomly associated with host species. The goal of this study was to examine the extent to which phenotypic outcomes of B. burgdorferi could be explained by the host communities fed upon by blacklegged ticks. In 2006 and 2009, we determined the host community composition based on abundance estimates of the vertebrate hosts, and collected host-seeking nymphal ticks in 2007 and 2010 to determine the ospC genotypes within infected ticks. We regressed instances of B. burgdorferi phenotypes on site-specific characteristics of host communities by constructing Bayesian hierarchical models that properly handled missing data. The models provided quantitative support for the relevance of host composition on Lyme disease risk pertaining to B. burgdorferi prevalence (i.e. overall nymphal infection prevalence, or NIPAll) and HIS prevalence among the infected ticks (NIPHIS). In each year, NIPAll and NIPHIS was found to be associated with host relative abundances and diversity. For mice and chipmunks, the association with NIPAll was positive, but tended to be negative with NIPHIS in both years. However, the direction of association between shrew relative abundance with NIPAll or NIPHIS differed across the two years. And, diversity (H') had a negative association with NIPAll, but positive association with NIPHIS in both years. Our analyses highlight that the relationships between the relative abundances of three primary hosts and the community diversity with NIPAll, and NIPHIS, are variable in time and space, and that disease risk inference, based on the role of host community, changes when we examine risk overall or at the phenotypic level. Our discussion focuses on the observed relationships between prevalence and host community characteristics and how they substantiate the ecological understanding of phenotypic Lyme disease risk.

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<![CDATA[Environmental Factors Affecting Survival of Immature Ixodes scapularis and Implications for Geographical Distribution of Lyme Disease: The Climate/Behavior Hypothesis]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989daadab0ee8fa60ba9e4d

Recent reports suggest that host-seeking nymphs in southern populations of Ixodes scapularis remain below the leaf litter surface, while northern nymphs seek hosts on leaves and twigs above the litter surface. This behavioral difference potentially results in decreased tick contact with humans in the south, and fewer cases of Lyme disease. We studied whether north-south differences in tick survival patterns might contribute to this phenomenon. Four month old larvae resulting from a cross between Wisconsin males and South Carolina females died faster under southern than under northern conditions in the lab, as has previously been reported for ticks from both northern and southern populations. However, newly-emerged larvae from Rhode Island parents did not differ consistently in mortality under northern and southern conditions, possibly because of their younger age. Survival is lower, and so the north-south survival difference might be greater in older ticks. Larval survival was positively related to larval size (as measured by scutal area), while survival was positively related to larval fat content in some, but not all, trials. The difference in larval survival under northern vs. southern conditions might simply result from faster metabolism under warmer southern conditions leading to shorter life spans. However, ticks consistently died faster under southern than under northern conditions in the laboratory when relative humidity was low (75%), but not under moderate (85%) or high (95%) RH. Therefore, mortality due to desiccation stress is greater under southern than under northern conditions. We hypothesize that mortality resulting from the greater desiccation stress under southern conditions acts as a selective pressure resulting in the evolution of host-seeking behavior in which immatures remain below the leaf litter surface in southern I. scapularis populations, so as to avoid the desiccating conditions at the surface. If this hypothesis is correct, it has implications for the effect of climate change on the future distribution of Lyme disease.

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<![CDATA[Louse-Borne Relapsing Fever (Borrelia recurrentis) in a Somali Refugee Arriving in Italy: A Re-emerging Infection in Europe?]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da62ab0ee8fa60b912d7 ]]> <![CDATA[Microarray Analyses of Inflammation Response of Human Dermal Fibroblasts to Different Strains of Borrelia burgdorferi Sensu Stricto]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da6dab0ee8fa60b93889

In Lyme borreliosis, the skin is the key site of bacterial inoculation by the infected tick, and of cutaneous manifestations, erythema migrans and acrodermatitis chronica atrophicans. We explored the role of fibroblasts, the resident cells of the dermis, in the development of the disease. Using microarray experiments, we compared the inflammation of fibroblasts induced by three strains of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto isolated from different environments and stages of Lyme disease: N40 (tick), Pbre (erythema migrans) and 1408 (acrodermatitis chronica atrophicans). The three strains exhibited a similar profile of inflammation with strong induction of chemokines (CXCL1 and IL-8) and IL-6 cytokine mainly involved in the chemoattraction of immune cells. Molecules such as TNF-alpha and NF-κB factors, metalloproteinases (MMP-1, -3 and -12) and superoxide dismutase (SOD2), also described in inflammatory and cellular events, were up-regulated. In addition, we showed that tick salivary gland extracts induce a cytotoxic effect on fibroblasts and that OspC, essential in the transmission of Borrelia to the vertebrate host, was not responsible for the secretion of inflammatory molecules by fibroblasts. Tick saliva components could facilitate the early transmission of the disease to the site of injury creating a feeding pit. Later in the development of the disease, Borrelia would intensively multiply in the skin and further disseminate to distant organs.

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<![CDATA[RpoS Regulates Essential Virulence Factors Remaining to Be Identified in Borrelia burgdorferi]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9f1ab0ee8fa60b6ea57

Background

Since the RpoN-RpoS regulatory network was revealed in the Lyme disease spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi a decade ago, both upstream and downstream of the pathway have been intensively investigated. While significant progress has been made into understanding of how the network is regulated, most notably, discovering a relationship of the network with Rrp2 and BosR, only three crucial virulence factors, including outer surface protein C (OspC) and decorin-binding proteins (Dbps) A and B, are associated with the pathway. Moreover, for more than 10 years no single RpoS-controlled gene has been found to be critical for infection, raising a question about whether additional RpoS-dependent virulence factors remain to be identified.

Methodology/Principal Findings

The rpoS gene was deleted in B. burgdorferi; resulting mutants were modified to constitutively express all the known virulence factors, OspC, DbpA and DbpB. This genetic modification was unable to restore the rpoS mutant with infectivity.

Conclusions/Significance

The inability to restore the rpoS mutant with infectivity by simultaneously over-expressing all the three virulence factors allows us to conclude RpoS also regulates essential genes that remain to be identified in B. burgdorferi.

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<![CDATA[Transcriptional Profiling the 150 kb Linear Megaplasmid of Borrelia turicatae Suggests a Role in Vector Colonization and Initiating Mammalian Infection]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9fbab0ee8fa60b721f1

Adaptation is key for survival as vector-borne pathogens transmit between the arthropod and vertebrate, and temperature change is an environmental signal inducing alterations in gene expression of tick-borne spirochetes. While plasmids are often associated with adaptation, complex genomes of relapsing fever spirochetes have hindered progress in understanding the mechanisms of vector colonization and transmission. We utilized recent advances in genome sequencing to generate the most complete version of the Borrelia turicatae 150 kb linear megaplasmid (lp150). Additionally, a transcriptional analysis of open reading frames (ORFs) in lp150 was conducted and identified regions that were up-regulated during in vitro cultivation at tick-like growth temperatures (22°C), relative to bacteria grown at 35°C and infected murine blood. Evaluation of the 3’ end of lp150 identified a cluster of ORFs that code for putative surface lipoproteins. With a microbe’s surface proteome serving important roles in pathogenesis, we confirmed the ORFs expression in vitro and in the tick compared to spirochetes infecting murine blood. Transcriptional evaluation of lp150 indicates the plasmid likely has essential roles in vector colonization and/or initiating mammalian infection. These results also provide a much needed transcriptional framework to delineate the molecular mechanisms utilized by relapsing fever spirochetes during their enzootic cycle.

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<![CDATA[Gray Wolf Exposure to Emerging Vector-Borne Diseases in Wisconsin with Comparison to Domestic Dogs and Humans]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db0fab0ee8fa60bcb817

World-wide concern over emerging vector-borne diseases has increased in recent years for both animal and human health. In the United Sates, concern about vector-borne diseases in canines has focused on Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, and heartworm which infect domestic and wild canids. Of these diseases, Lyme and anaplasmosis are also frequently diagnosed in humans. Gray wolves (Canis lupus) recolonized Wisconsin in the 1970s, and we evaluated their temporal and geographic patterns of exposure to these four vector-borne diseases in Wisconsin as the population expanded between 1985 and 2011. A high proportion of the Wisconsin wolves were exposed to the agents that cause Lyme (65.6%) and anaplasma (47.7%), and a smaller proportion to ehrlichiosis (5.7%) and infected with heartworm (9.2%). Wolf exposure to tick borne diseases was consistently higher in older animals. Wolf exposure was markedly higher than domestic dog (Canis familiaris) exposure for all 4 disease agents during 2001–2013. We found a cluster of wolf exposure to Borrelia burgdorferi in northwestern Wisconsin, which overlaps human and domestic dog clusters for the same pathogen. In addition, wolf exposure to Lyme disease in Wisconsin has increased, corresponding with the increasing human incidence of Lyme disease in a similar time period. Despite generally high prevalence of exposure none of these diseases appear to have slowed the growth of the Wisconsin wolf population.

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<![CDATA[Digital Health: Tracking Physiomes and Activity Using Wearable Biosensors Reveals Useful Health-Related Information]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db54ab0ee8fa60bdd035

A new wave of portable biosensors allows frequent measurement of health-related physiology. We investigated the use of these devices to monitor human physiological changes during various activities and their role in managing health and diagnosing and analyzing disease. By recording over 250,000 daily measurements for up to 43 individuals, we found personalized circadian differences in physiological parameters, replicating previous physiological findings. Interestingly, we found striking changes in particular environments, such as airline flights (decreased peripheral capillary oxygen saturation [SpO2] and increased radiation exposure). These events are associated with physiological macro-phenotypes such as fatigue, providing a strong association between reduced pressure/oxygen and fatigue on high-altitude flights. Importantly, we combined biosensor information with frequent medical measurements and made two important observations: First, wearable devices were useful in identification of early signs of Lyme disease and inflammatory responses; we used this information to develop a personalized, activity-based normalization framework to identify abnormal physiological signals from longitudinal data for facile disease detection. Second, wearables distinguish physiological differences between insulin-sensitive and -resistant individuals. Overall, these results indicate that portable biosensors provide useful information for monitoring personal activities and physiology and are likely to play an important role in managing health and enabling affordable health care access to groups traditionally limited by socioeconomic class or remote geography.

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<![CDATA[Population-Based Passive Tick Surveillance and Detection of Expanding Foci of Blacklegged Ticks Ixodes scapularis and the Lyme Disease Agent Borrelia burgdorferi in Ontario, Canada]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db07ab0ee8fa60bc8ea2

We identified ticks submitted by the public from 2008 through 2012 in Ontario, Canada, and tested blacklegged ticks Ixodes scapularis for Borrelia burgdorferi and Anaplasma phagocytophilum. Among the 18 species of ticks identified, I. scapularis, Dermacentor variabilis, Ixodes cookei and Amblyomma americanum represented 98.1% of the 14,369 ticks submitted. Rates of blacklegged tick submission per 100,000 population were highest in Ontario's Eastern region; D. variabilis in Central West and Eastern regions; I. cookei in Eastern and South West regions; and A. americanum had a scattered distribution. Rates of blacklegged tick submission per 100,000 population were highest from children (0–9 years old) and older adults (55–74 years old). In two health units in the Eastern region (i.e., Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District and Kingston-Frontenac and Lennox & Addington), the rate of submission for engorged and B. burgdorferi-positive blacklegged ticks was 47× higher than the rest of Ontario. Rate of spread for blacklegged ticks was relatively faster and across a larger geographic area along the northern shore of Lake Ontario/St. Lawrence River, compared with slower spread from isolated populations along the northern shore of Lake Erie. The infection prevalence of B. burgdorferi in blacklegged ticks increased in Ontario over the study period from 8.4% in 2008 to 19.1% in 2012. The prevalence of B. burgdorferi-positive blacklegged ticks increased yearly during the surveillance period and, while increases were not uniform across all regions, increases were greatest in the Central West region, followed by Eastern and South West regions. The overall infection prevalence of A. phagocytophilum in blacklegged ticks was 0.3%. This study provides essential information on ticks of medical importance in Ontario, and identifies demographic and geographic areas for focused public education on the prevention of tick bites and tick-borne diseases.

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<![CDATA[Design and Development of a Novel Vaccine for Protection against Lyme Borreliosis]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db4aab0ee8fa60bd9ed8

There is currently no Lyme borreliosis vaccine available for humans, although it has been shown that the disease can be prevented by immunization with an OspA-based vaccine (LYMErix). Outer surface protein A (OspA) is one of the dominant antigens expressed by the spirochetes when present in a tick. The Borrelia species causing Lyme borreliosis in Europe express different OspA serotypes on their surface, B. burgdorferi (serotype 1), B. afzelii (serotype 2), B. garinii (serotypes, 3, 5 and 6) and B. bavariensis (serotype 4), while only B. burgdorferi is present in the US. In order to target all these pathogenic Borrelia species, we have designed a multivalent OspA-based vaccine. The vaccine includes three proteins, each containing the C-terminal half of two OspA serotypes linked to form a heterodimer. In order to stabilize the C-terminal fragment and thus preserve important structural epitopes at physiological temperature, disulfide bonds were introduced. The immunogenicity was increased by introduction of a lipidation signal which ensures the addition of an N-terminal lipid moiety. Three immunizations with 3.0 µg adjuvanted vaccine protected mice from a challenge with spirochetes expressing either OspA serotype 1, 2 or 5. Mice were protected against both challenge with infected ticks and in vitro grown spirochetes. Immunological analyses (ELISA, surface binding and growth inhibition) indicated that the vaccine can provide protection against the majority of Borrelia species pathogenic for humans. This article presents the approach which allows for the generation of a hexavalent vaccine that can potentially protect against a broad range of globally distributed Borrelia species causing Lyme borreliosis.

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<![CDATA[A Tick Gut Protein with Fibronectin III Domains Aids Borrelia burgdorferi Congregation to the Gut during Transmission]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da3fab0ee8fa60b894aa

Borrelia burgdorferi transmission to the vertebrate host commences with growth of the spirochete in the tick gut and migration from the gut to the salivary glands. This complex process, involving intimate interactions of the spirochete with the gut epithelium, is pivotal to transmission. We utilized a yeast surface display library of tick gut proteins to perform a global screen for tick gut proteins that might interact with Borrelia membrane proteins. A putative fibronectin type III domain-containing tick gut protein (Ixofin3D) was most frequently identified from this screen and prioritized for further analysis. Immunization against Ixofin3D and RNA interference-mediated reduction in expression of Ixofin3D resulted in decreased spirochete burden in tick salivary glands and in the murine host. Microscopic examination showed decreased aggregation of spirochetes on the gut epithelium concomitant with reduced expression of Ixofin3D. Our observations suggest that the interaction between Borrelia and Ixofin3D facilitates spirochete congregation to the gut during transmission, and provides a “molecular exit” direction for spirochete egress from the gut.

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<![CDATA[TLR1/TLR2 Heterodimers Play an Important Role in the Recognition of Borrelia Spirochetes]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dad1ab0ee8fa60bb6548

After infection with Borrelia species, the risk for developing Lyme disease varies significantly between individuals. Recognition of Borrelia by the immune system is mediated by pattern recognition receptors (PRRs), such as TLRs. While TLR2 is the main recognition receptor for Borrelia spp., little is known about the role of TLR1 and TLR6, which both can form functionally active heterodimers with TLR2. Here we investigated the recognition of Borrelia by both murine and human TLR1 and TLR6. Peritoneal macrophages from TLR1- and TLR6- gene deficient mice were isolated and exposed to Borrelia. Human PBMCs were stimulated with Borrelia with or without specific TLR1 and TLR6 blocking using specific antibodies. Finally, the functional consequences of TLR polymorphisms on Borrelia-induced cytokine production were assessed. Splenocytes isolated from both TLR1−/− and TLR6−/− mice displayed a distorted Th1/Th2 cytokine balance after stimulation with B.burgdorferi, while no differences in pro-inflammatory cytokine production were observed. In contrast, blockade of TLR1 with specific neutralizing antibodies led to decreased cytokine production by human PBMCs after exposure to B.burgdorferi. Blockade of human TLR6 did not lead to suppression of cytokine production. When PBMCs from healthy individuals bearing polymorphisms in TLR1 were exposed to B.burgdorferi, a remarkably decreased in vitro cytokine production was observed in comparison to wild-type controls. TLR6 polymorphisms lead to a minor modified cytokine production. This study indicates a dominant role for TLR1/TLR2 heterodimers in the induction of the early inflammatory response by Borrelia spirochetes in humans.

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<![CDATA[MicroRNA and mRNA Transcriptome Profiling in Primary Human Astrocytes Infected with Borrelia burgdorferi]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db4fab0ee8fa60bdb86a

Lyme disease is caused by infection with the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb), which is transmitted to humans by deer ticks. The infection manifests usually as a rash and minor systemic symptoms; however, the bacteria can spread to other tissues, causing joint pain, carditis, and neurological symptoms. Lyme neuroborreliosis presents itself in several ways, such as Bell’s palsy, meningitis, and encephalitis. The molecular basis for neuroborreliosis is poorly understood. Analysis of the changes in the expression levels of messenger RNAs and non-coding RNAs, including microRNAs, following Bb infection could therefore provide vital information on the pathogenesis and clinical symptoms of neuroborreliosis. To this end, we used cultured primary human astrocytes, key responders to CNS infection and important components of the blood-brain barrier, as a model system to study RNA and microRNA changes in the CNS caused by Bb. Using whole transcriptome RNA-seq, we found significant changes in 38 microRNAs and 275 mRNAs at 24 and 48 hours following Bb infection. Several of the RNA changes affect pathways involved in immune response, development, chromatin assembly (including histones) and cell adhesion. Further, several of the microRNA predicted target mRNAs were also differentially regulated. Overall, our results indicate that exposure to Bb causes significant changes to the transcriptome and microRNA profile of astrocytes, which has implications in the pathogenesis, and hence potential treatment strategies to combat this disease.

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