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: New model sheds light on secondary bacterial pneumonia

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, ...

Gut bacteria can cause life-threatening infections in preterm babies

March 19, 2014
Babies born prematurely are surviving in increasing numbers. But many withstand complications of early birth only to suffer late-onset sepsis—life-threatening bloodstream infections that strike after infants reach 72 hours ...

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 ...

Confronted with bacteria, infected cells die so others can live, study finds

September 29, 2017
The immune system is contantly performing surveillance to detect foreign organisms that might do harm. But pathogens, for their part, have evolved a number of strategies to evade this detection, such as secreting proteins ...

Recommended for you

Ambitious global virome project could mark end of pandemic era

February 23, 2018
Rather than wait for viruses like Ebola, SARS and Zika to become outbreaks that force the world to react, a new global initiative seeks to proactively identify, prepare for and stop viral threats before they become pandemics.

Forecasting antibiotic resistance with a 'weather map' of local data

February 23, 2018
The resistance that infectious microbes have to antibiotics makes it difficult for physicians to confidently select the right drug to treat an infection. And that resistance is dynamic: It changes from year to year and varies ...

Study reveals how kidney disease happens

February 22, 2018
Monash researchers have solved a mystery, revealing how certain immune cells work together to instigate autoimmune kidney disease.

Scientists gain new insight on how antibodies interact with widespread respiratory virus

February 22, 2018
Scientists have found and characterized the activity of four antibodies produced by the human immune system that target an important protein found in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), according to new research published ...

Past encounters with the flu shape vaccine response

February 20, 2018
New research on why the influenza vaccine was only modestly effective in recent years shows that immune history with the flu influences a person's response to the vaccine.

Building better tiny kidneys to test drugs and help people avoid dialysis

February 16, 2018
A free online kidney atlas built by USC researchers empowers stem cell scientists everywhere to generate more human-like tiny kidneys for testing new drugs and creating renal replacement therapies.

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.