Lyme: Borrelia Burgdorferi Mechanism Imaging in Tissue Engineered Dermal Microvessel Model


Zhaobin Guo, et al, republished “Visualization of the Dynamics of Invasion and Intravasation of the Bacterium That Causes Lyme Disease in a Tissue Engineered Dermal Microvessel Model” in Advanced Science on December 19, 2022 (initially published September 25, 2022). The study’s objective was to better understand the dissemination of vector-borne pathogens, such as Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb), in particular, invasion and intravasation into circulation.

To demonstrate the mechanisms of these processes, the researchers developed a tissue-engineered human dermal microvessel model. To mimic tick inoculation, fluorescently marked Bb were injected into the extracellular matrix (ECM) after which, high resolution, confocal imaging was employed to capture the sub-acute phase of infection.

After analysis of the migration paths, no evidence was found to support adhesin-mediated exchanges between Bb and ECM components, which suggests that collagen fibers serve as inactive barriers to migration. Intravasation takes place relatively fast at cell–cell junctures, compatible with Bb swimming in ECM. Furthermore, it was observed that Bb can exclusively generate endothelium activation, causing increased immune cell adhesion with no variations in global or local permeability.

Collectively, these outcomes offer a new understanding of the basic conditions Bb requires for dissemination, as well as shows how tissue-engineered models compliment animal models when capturing the dynamic processes of vector-borne pathogens.

LDA NOTE: This work was supported by a grant from the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) Tick Borne Disease Research Program. The Lyme Disease Association Inc. worked with Congressman Chris Smith (NJ)  and the House Lyme Disease Caucus which he has long chaired, to get a Tick Borne Diseases Program into the DoD funded CDMRP program. The LDA President served 4 years on CDMRP’s Programmatic Panel. Visit the CDMRP website. 

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Read the article in Advanced Science.

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