Persistence of borrelial DNA in the joints of Borrelia burgdorferi-infected mice after ceftriaxone treatment

APMIS. 2010 Sep 1;118(9):665-73. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0463.2010.02615.x.


We have earlier shown that Borrelia burgdorferi-infected and ceftriaxone-treated mice have viable spirochetes in their body, since immunosuppressive treatment allows B. burgdorferi to be detected by culture. However, the niche of the persisting spirochetes remained unknown. In the present study, we analyzed the tissues of B. burgdorferi-infected and ceftriaxone-treated mice by culture and PCR to reveal the foci of persisting spirochetes. C3H/HeN mice were infected via intradermal needle injection with B. burgdorferi s.s. N40. The mice were treated as follows: (i) short (5 days) and (ii) long (18 days) course of ceftriaxone at 2 weeks of infection and killed after either 10 or 30 weeks, or (iii) the mice received ceftriaxone for 5 days at 18 weeks of infection and were killed 21 weeks after the treatment. All samples of ceftriaxone-treated mice were culture negative, whereas all untreated controls were culture positive. Importantly, B. burgdorferi DNA was detected in the joints of 30-100% of the treated mice. In conclusion, these results combined with earlier results suggest that the joint or a tissue adjacent to the joint is the niche of persisting B. burgdorferi in ceftriaxone-treated mice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / blood
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Borrelia burgdorferi / genetics*
  • Borrelia burgdorferi / isolation & purification
  • Ceftriaxone / therapeutic use*
  • DNA Primers
  • DNA, Bacterial / analysis*
  • Flagellin / genetics
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Lyme Disease / drug therapy*
  • Lyme Disease / genetics
  • Lyme Disease / microbiology
  • Mice
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • DNA Primers
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Flagellin
  • Ceftriaxone