The evolution of Lyme borreliosis in transgenic mice tolerant to Borrelia burgdorferi outer surface proteins (Osps) A or B was assessed to investigate the role of immunity to OspA or B in infection and pathogenesis of Lyme disease. Antibodies to OspA or B protect immunocompetent C3H/HeJ or C.B.17 severe combined immunodeficient (scid) mice from challenge with B. burgdorferi. Moreover, arthritis in infected C3H mice resolves with the rise of high titers of B. burgdorferi specific antibodies, including OspA and B, whereas disease persists in scid mice--suggesting that the regression of arthritis may be due to the development of borreliacidal OspA or B antibodies. To evaluate the course of Lyme borreliosis in OspA or B tolerant mice we developed transgenic mice that expressed OspA or B under control of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I promoter. Mice carrying OspA or B transgenes on a C3H/HeJ (C3H, disease-susceptible) or C57BL/6 (B6, disease-resistant) background, immunized with OspA or B, did not mount a humoral or cellular immune response to OspA or B, respectively, but responded normally to other B. burgdorferi antigens. The evolution of Lyme borreliosis, including infection and the development of arthritis and carditis, was similar in transgenic and nontransgenic littermates suggesting that an OspA or B immune response is not singularly involved in either the genesis or regression of Lyme disease in C3H or B6 mice.
E Fikrig, H Tao, M Chen, S W Barthold, R A Flavell