Persistent Borrelia Burgdorferi Infection: CD4 T Cell Responses

Persistent Borrelia burgdorferi
Borrelia burgdorferi in mouse, Photo by Stephen W. Barthold, DVM, PhD

Elizabeth M. Hammond, et al., published a study in Current Opinion in Immunology investigating the correlation between persistent Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb), infections, and CD4 T cell responses in August 2022. The study found that in mice infected with Bb, the pathogen triggers CD4 T cell activation in secondary lymphoid tissues, from which they spread into other diseased tissues. Regardless of their activation and the occurrence of CD4 T cell-dependent antibody responses, Bb generates persistent infection in natural Bb reservoir hosts, despite the absence of apparent disease, which brings into question the effectiveness of the anti-Bb T cell responses.

After reviewing the available literature, the researchers suggest that CD4 T cells may establish a host cell target of Bb-mediated immune evasion, which makes these cells unsuccessful in creating effective inflammatory responses and unable to support highly efficient Bb-specific antibody generation. This indicates that enhancing the stimulation of more efficient CD4 T cell responses may assist with overcoming persistent Bb infections.

Other highlights from the study include:

  • Numerous immune evasion strategies advance persistent Bb infections.
  • CD4 Th1 polarization is linked with Bb-induced infection not protection.
  • Protective Th2 and Th17 polarization are not generated to Bb infections.
  • Strong Tfh production yet diminished T-dependent B cell responses after Bb infections.

More information:

Access the study in Current Opinion in Immunology.

Read more about The Role of CD4 T Cell Responses in Persistent Borrelia Burgdorferi Infections.

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