Researchers track Lyme disease spirochetes

June 20, 2008

Microbiologists at the University of Calgary have demonstrated the first direct visualization of the dissemination of Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. This real-time, three-dimensional look at spirochete dissemination in a living mammalian host is published June 20th in the open-access journal PLoS Pathogens.

Pathogenic spirochetes are a group of bacteria that cause a number of emerging and re-emerging diseases worldwide, including syphilis, leptospirosis, relapsing fever, and Lyme disease. The mechanism by which they disseminate from the blood to target sites is unknown. Direct visualization of these bacteria may yield critical insight into resultant disease processes.

The team therefore set out to directly observe these bacteria at the single-cell level in a living host, using an engineered fluorescent strain of B. burgdorferi as an example bacterium. Using conventional and spinning disk confocal microscopy, the investigators were able to track the movement of the bacteria and the interaction of the bacteria with the vascular wall in mice. They found that vascular escape is a multi-stage process and that spirochete movement appears to play an integral role in dissemination from the blood to target tissue sites.

This use of high-resolution, 3D imaging to visualize the dissemination of a bacterial pathogen in vivo lays the groundwork for a better understanding of the mechanisms by which these and other bacteria disseminate throughout the body to cause disease.


Source: Public Library of Science www.plospathogens.org/doi/ppat.1000090

Explore further: Q&A: Can we conquer all diseases by the end of the century?

Related Stories

New model sheds light on secondary bacterial pneumonia

August 9, 2016

August 9, 2016 - For years, researchers have known that the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) can trigger severe, sometimes deadly secondary bacterial pneumonia, in some people who are subsequently infected with ...

Immune cells' bacteria may fight chronic inflammation

March 17, 2016

A population of bacteria inhabits human and mouse immune cells and appears to protect the body from inflammation and illness, Weill Cornell Medicine scientists discovered in a new study. The findings challenge conventional ...

Essential factor for Lyme disease transmission identified

December 19, 2013

Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, hitchhikes in ticks for dissemination to mammalian hosts—including humans. An article in the 19 December issue of PLOS Pathogens identifies HrpA, an RNA helicase, ...

Nanoparticle-coated bacteria can deliver cancer vaccine

April 16, 2015

Marking an important step in the development of immunotherapy cancer treatment, scientists have demonstrated that nanoparticle-coated bacteria can effectively deliver an oral DNA vaccine that stimulates the body's own immune ...

Recommended for you

Raising the curtain on cerebral malaria's deadly agents

December 6, 2016

Using state-of-the-art brain imaging technology, scientists at the National Institutes of Health filmed what happens in the brains of mice that developed cerebral malaria (CM). The results, published in PLOS Pathogens, reveal ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.