Pathogenesis of Borrelia burgdorferi and Babesia microti in TLR4-Competent and TLR4-dysfunctional C3H Mice
Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are a class of membrane-spanning proteins of host cells. TLR2 and TLR4 are displayed on the surface of macrophages, neutrophils and dendritic cells and recognize structurally conserved microbial signatures defined as Pathogen associated molecular patterns (PAMPs). C3H mice are susceptible to tick-borne pathogens; Lyme disease causing Borrelia burgdorferi that manifests arthritis and carditis and Apicomplexan protozoan, Babesia microti (Bm) that causes significant
... itemia associated with erythrocytopenia and haemoglobinuria. B. burgdorferi lacks typical TLR4 ligand lipopolysaccharides (LPS) and Bm TLR ligand(s) remain unknown. Only Borrelia lipoproteins that signal through TLR2 are established as PAMPs of these pathogens for TLR2/TLR4. Infection of C3H mice with each pathogen individually resulted in increase in the percentage of splenic B, T, and FcR+ cells while their co-infection significantly diminished levels of these cells and caused increased B. burgdorferi burden in the specific organs. The most pronounced inflammatory arthritis was observed in co-infected C3H/HeJ mice. Parasitemia levels and kinetics of resolution of Bm in both mice strains were not significantly different. Transfected HEK293 cells showed pronounced signaling by B. burgdorferi through TLR2 and to some extent by TLR4 while Bm and infected erythrocytes did not show any response confirming our results in mice. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.