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The multifaceted responses of primary human astrocytes and brain microvascular endothelial cells to the Lyme disease spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi

Author(s): Catherine A. Brissette | Eric D. Kees | Margaret M. Burke | Robert A. Gaultney | Angela M. Floden | John A. Watt

Journal: ASN Neuro
ISSN 1759-0914

Volume: 5;
Issue: 3;
Start page: e00119;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: astrocyte | blood–brain barrier | Borrelia burgdorferi | chemokine | endothelium | neuroborreliosis.

The vector-borne pathogen, Borrelia burgdorferi, causes a multi-system disorder including neurological complications. These neurological disorders, collectively termed neuroborreliosis, can occur in up to 15% of untreated patients. The neurological symptoms are probably a result of a glial-driven, host inflammatory response to the bacterium. However, the specific contributions of individual glial and other support cell types to the pathogenesis of neuroborreliosis are relatively unexplored. The goal of this project was to characterize specific astrocyte and endothelial cell responses to B. burgdorferi. Primary human astrocytes and primary HBMEC (human brain microvascular endothelial cells) were incubated with B. burgdorferi over a 72-h period and the transcriptional responses to the bacterium were analyzed by real-time PCR arrays. There was a robust increase in several surveyed chemokine and related genes, including IL (interleukin)-8, for both primary astrocytes and HBMEC. Array results were confirmed with individual sets of PCR primers. The production of specific chemokines by both astrocytes and HBMEC in response to B. burgdorferi, including IL-8, CXCL-1, and CXCL-10, were confirmed by ELISA. These results demonstrate that primary astrocytes and HBMEC respond to virulent B. burgdorferi by producing a number of chemokines. These data suggest that infiltrating phagocytic cells, particularly neutrophils, attracted by chemokines expressed at the BBB (blood–brain barrier) may be important contributors to the early inflammatory events associated with neuroborreliosis.
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