Borrelia garinii induces CXCL13 production in human monocytes through Toll-like receptor 2

Infect Immun. 2007 Sep;75(9):4351-6. doi: 10.1128/IAI.01642-06. Epub 2007 Jun 11.


Recent studies have suggested an important role for the B-cell-attracting chemokine CXCL13 in the B-cell-dominated cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) infiltrate in patients with neuroborreliosis (NB). High levels of CXCL13 were present in the CSF of NB patients. It has not been clear, however, whether high CSF CXCL13 titers are specific for NB or are a characteristic of other spirochetal diseases as well. Furthermore, the mechanisms leading to the observed CXCL13 expression have not been identified yet. Here we describe similarly elevated CSF CXCL13 levels in patients with neurosyphilis, while pneumococcal meningitis patient CSF do not have high CXCL13 levels. In parallel, challenge of human monocytes in vitro with two of the spirochetal causative organisms, Borrelia garinii (the Borrelia species most frequently found in NB patients) and Treponema pallidum, but not challenge with pneumococci, induced CXCL13 release. This finding implies that a common spirochetal motif is a CXCL13 inducer. Accordingly, we found that the lipid moiety N-palmitoyl-S-(bis[palmitoyloxy]propyl)cystein (Pam(3)C) (three palmitoyl residues bound to N-terminal cysteine) of the spirochetal lipoproteins is critical for the CXCL13 induction in monocytes. As the Pam(3)C motif is known to signal via Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2) and an anti-TLR2 monoclonal antibody blocked CXCL13 production of human monocytes incubated with B. garinii, this suggests that TLR2 is a major mediator of Borrelia-induced secretion of CXCL13 from human monocytes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Borrelia burgdorferi Group / immunology*
  • Cell Line
  • Chemokine CXCL13
  • Chemokines, CXC / biosynthesis*
  • Chemokines, CXC / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Chemokines, CXC / genetics*
  • Chemokines, CXC / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Lyme Neuroborreliosis / immunology
  • Lyme Neuroborreliosis / metabolism
  • Lyme Neuroborreliosis / microbiology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C3H
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Monocytes / immunology*
  • Monocytes / metabolism
  • Monocytes / microbiology*
  • Toll-Like Receptor 2 / physiology*


  • CXCL13 protein, human
  • Chemokine CXCL13
  • Chemokines, CXC
  • TLR2 protein, human
  • Toll-Like Receptor 2