Transformation of cystic forms of Borrelia burgdorferi to normal, mobile spirochetes.

 Infection. 1997 Jul-Aug;25,4:240-6.Transformation of cystic forms of Borrelia
burgdorferi to normal, mobile spirochetes. Brorson O, Brorson SH.
Dept. of Microbiology, Ullevål University Hospital, Oslo, Norway.
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the behaviour of Borrelia burgdorferi under 
controlled conditions. The occurrence o f cystic forms of Borrelia burgdorferi in vitro was 
50noted, and these cysts were able to be transformed to normal, mobile spirochetes. B. 
burgdorferi was cultivated in a commercial culture medium without serum. The spirochetes 
multiplied only slowly in this medium, and transformation to encysted forms was observed after 
1 week. When these cysts were transferred to the same culture medium with rabbit serum, the 
encysted forms developed into regular, mobile spirochetes after 6 weeks, and their regeneration 
time was normal. Examination of these cysts in the transmission electron microscope revealed 
transverse fission inside the cysts. It is probable that similar phenomena may occur in vivo under 
conditions unfavourable for spirochetes. These  observations may help to explain why diagnosis 
and treatment of B. burgdorferi infections in humans can be difficult

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