Intracellular persistence of Borrelia burgdorferi in human synovial cells.

 Rheumatol Int. 1996;16,3:125-32.Intracellular persistence of Borrelia burgdorferi in 
human synovial cells. Girschick HJ, Huppertz HI, Rüssmann H, Krenn V, Karch H.
Children's Hospital, University of Würzburg, Germany.
To investigate if Borrelia burgdorferi can persist in resident joint cells, an infection model using 
cell cultures of human synovial cells was established and compared to the interaction of Borrelia
burgdorferi and human macrophages. Borrelia burgdorferi were found attached to the cell 
surface or folded into the cell membrane of synovial cells analysed by transmission electron and 
confocal laser scanning microscopy. In contrast to macrophages, morphologically intact Borrelia
burgdorferi were found in the cytosol of synovial cells without engulfment by cell membrane 
folds or phagosomes. Borrelia burgdorferi were isolated from parallel cultures.Treatment with 
ceftriaxone eradicated extracellular Borrelia burgdorferi, but spirochetes were reisolated after 
lysis of the synovial cells. Borrelia burgdorferi persisted inside synovial cells for at least 8 
weeks. These data suggested that Borrelia burgdorferi might be able to persist within resident 
joint cells in vivo

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