Usually, Lyme disease can be successfully treated with about four weeks of antibiotics; treatment is most successful during the early stages of infection.
The UC Davis study
Swollen lymph nodes, or lymphadenopathy, is one of the hallmarks of Lyme disease, although it has been unclear why this occurs or how it affects the course of the disease. The UC Davis research team set out to explore in mice the mechanisms that cause the enlarged lymph nodes and to determine the nature of the resulting immune response.
They found that when mice were infected with B. burgdorferi, these live spirochetes accumulated in the animals' lymph nodes. The lymph nodes responded with a strong, rapid accumulation of B cells, white blood cells that produce antibodies to fight infections. Also, the presence of B. burgdorferi caused the destruction of the distinct architecture of the lymph node that usually helps it to function normally.
While B cells accumulated in large numbers and made some specific antibodies against B. burgdorferi, they did not form "germinal centers," structures that are needed for the generation of highly functional and long-lived antibody responses.
"Overall, these findings suggest that B. burgdorferi hinder the immune system from generating a response that is fully functional and that can persist and protect after repeat infections," Baumgarth said. "Thus, the study might explain why people living in endemic areas can be repeatedly infected with these disease-causing spirochetes."
|Contact: Patricia Bailey|
University of California - Davis