In vector-borne diseases, the skin plays an essential role in the transmission of vector-borne pathogens between the vertebrate host and blood-feeding arthropods and in pathogen persistence. Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato is a tick-borne bacterium that causes Lyme borreliosis (LB) in humans. This pathogen may establish a long-lasting infection in its natural vertebrate host where it can persist in the skin and some other organs. Using a mouse model, we demonstrate that Borrelia targets the skin regardless of the route of inoculation, and can persist there at low densities that are difficult to detect via qPCR, but that were infective for blood-feeding ticks. Application of immunosuppressive dermocorticoids at 40 days post-infection (PI) significantly enhanced the Borrelia population size in the mouse skin. We used non-targeted (Ge-LC-MS/MS) and targeted (SRM-MS) proteomics to detect several Borrelia-specific proteins in the mouse skin at 40 days PI. Detected Borrelia proteins included flagellin, VlsE and GAPDH. An important problem in LB is the lack of diagnosis methods capable of detecting active infection in humans suffering from disseminated LB. The identification of Borrelia proteins in skin biopsies may provide new approaches for assessing active infection in disseminated manifestations.
Scientific Reports – Springer Journals
Published: Dec 1, 2017
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