Karvonen, et al., published, “Distinctive Evasion Mechanisms to Allow Persistence of Borrelia burgdorferi in Different Human Cell Lines,” in Frontiers in Microbiology. The study aimed to better understand the mechanisms which enable Borrelia burgdorferi infections to progress into a persistent sequela of the disease by examining two non-immune and non-phagocytic human cell lines.
The study demonstrated how B. burgdorferi utilizes different mechanisms to persist. Host cell surface extensions, variations in borrelial shapes while invading host cells, and differences in intracellular handling of the bacteria, give Borrelia the ability to survive. The authors state, “Intracellular persistence of Borrelia, due to avoidance of lysosomal co-localization, lack of cytopathic effects, and the ability to change its shape, all provide strategies Borrelia can employ for immune evasion and persistence.”