Biology of infection with Borrelia burgdorferi

Infect Dis Clin North Am. 2008 Jun;22(2):217-34, v. doi: 10.1016/j.idc.2007.12.013.


The spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi is a tick-borne obligate parasite whose normal reservoir is a variety of small mammals. Although infection of these natural hosts does not lead to disease, infection of humans can result in Lyme disease as a consequence of the human immunopathologic response to B burgdorferi. Consistent with the pathogenesis of Lyme disease, bacterial products that allow B burgdorferi to replicate and survive seem to be primarily what is required for the bacterium to cause disease in a susceptible host. This article describes the basic biology of B burgdorferi and reviews some of the bacterial components required for infection of and survival in the mammalian and tick hosts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arachnid Vectors / microbiology
  • Borrelia burgdorferi / genetics
  • Borrelia burgdorferi / growth & development
  • Borrelia burgdorferi / immunology
  • Borrelia burgdorferi / physiology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Genome, Bacterial
  • Humans
  • Life Cycle Stages
  • Lyme Disease / immunology
  • Lyme Disease / microbiology*
  • Lyme Disease / transmission
  • Ticks / microbiology