Host Metabolic Response in Early Lyme Disease

J Proteome Res. 2020 Feb 7;19(2):610-623. doi: 10.1021/acs.jproteome.9b00470. Epub 2020 Jan 9.


Lyme disease is a tick-borne bacterial illness that occurs in areas of North America, Europe, and Asia. Early infection typically presents as generalized symptoms with an erythema migrans (EM) skin lesion. Dissemination of the pathogen Borrelia burgdorferi can result in multiple EM skin lesions or in extracutaneous manifestations such as Lyme neuroborreliosis. Metabolic biosignatures of patients with early Lyme disease can potentially provide diagnostic targets as well as highlight metabolic pathways that contribute to pathogenesis. Sera from well-characterized patients diagnosed with either early localized Lyme disease (ELL) or early disseminated Lyme disease (EDL), plus healthy controls (HC), from the United States were analyzed by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS). Comparative analyses were performed between ELL, or EDL, or ELL combined with EDL, and the HC to develop biosignatures present in early Lyme disease. A direct comparison between ELL and EDL was also performed to develop a biosignature for stages of early Lyme disease. Metabolic pathway analysis and chemical identification of metabolites with LC-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) demonstrated alterations of eicosanoid, bile acid, sphingolipid, glycerophospholipid, and acylcarnitine metabolic pathways during early Lyme disease. These metabolic alterations were confirmed using a separate set of serum samples for validation. The findings demonstrated that infection of humans with B. burgdorferi alters defined metabolic pathways that are associated with inflammatory responses, liver function, lipid metabolism, and mitochondrial function. Additionally, the data provide evidence that metabolic pathways can be used to mark the progression of early Lyme disease.

Keywords: Borrelia burgdorferi; acylcarnitine; bile acid; eicosanoid; glycerophospholipid; lyme disease; mass spectrometry; metabolomics; sphingolipid.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Asia
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Europe
  • Humans
  • Lyme Disease* / diagnosis
  • Lyme Neuroborreliosis*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry