Researchers track Lyme disease spirochetes

Jun 20, 2008

Microbiologists at the University of Calgary have demonstrated the first direct visualization of the dissemination of Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. This real-time, three-dimensional look at spirochete dissemination in a living mammalian host is published June 20th in the open-access journal PLoS Pathogens.

Pathogenic spirochetes are a group of bacteria that cause a number of emerging and re-emerging diseases worldwide, including syphilis, leptospirosis, relapsing fever, and Lyme disease. The mechanism by which they disseminate from the blood to target sites is unknown. Direct visualization of these bacteria may yield critical insight into resultant disease processes.

The team therefore set out to directly observe these bacteria at the single-cell level in a living host, using an engineered fluorescent strain of B. burgdorferi as an example bacterium. Using conventional and spinning disk confocal microscopy, the investigators were able to track the movement of the bacteria and the interaction of the bacteria with the vascular wall in mice. They found that vascular escape is a multi-stage process and that spirochete movement appears to play an integral role in dissemination from the blood to target tissue sites.

This use of high-resolution, 3D imaging to visualize the dissemination of a bacterial pathogen in vivo lays the groundwork for a better understanding of the mechanisms by which these and other bacteria disseminate throughout the body to cause disease.


Source: Public Library of Science www.plospathogens.org/doi/ppat.1000090

Explore further: CDC: Raw tuna suspected as Salmonella source in outbreak

Related Stories

New study sheds light on how Salmonella spreads in the body

Dec 06, 2012

Findings of Cambridge scientists, published today in the journal PLoS Pathogens, show a new mechanism used by bacteria to spread in the body with the potential to identify targets to prevent the dissemination of the infect ...

Searching for an ancient syphilis DNA in newborns

Jul 03, 2012

The ancient bones of newborns are very useful to recover the ancient DNA of the bacteria causing syphilis, the Treponema pallidum pallidum. This is the conclusion reached by a study led by Universitat Autono ...

Recommended for you

Aspirin to improve leg ulcers

7 hours ago

Researchers are looking at whether aspirin can improve the healing rates of leg ulcers in older adults.

Sierra Leone marks grim Ebola anniversary

11 hours ago

On May 24 last year a pregnant woman and an older housewife staggered into Kenema hospital in eastern Sierra Leone and were diagnosed within a day as the country's first Ebola cases.

MSF fighting cholera outbreak in Tanzania refugee camps

May 24, 2015

Medical charity Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF, Doctors Without Borders) said Sunday it had launched emergency treatment centres in Tanzania, where thousands of Burundians fleeing unrest have been hit by cholera.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.