Persistence of Borrelia burgdorferi following Antibiotic Treatment in Mice

 Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, May 2008, p. 1728-1736, Vol. 52, No. 50066-4804 
Persistence of Borrelia burgdorferi following Antibiotic Treatment in Mice Emir Hodzic, 
Sunlian Feng, Kevin Holden, Kimberly J. Freet, and Stephen W. Barthold* 
Center for Comparative Medicine, Schools of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, University of 
California at Davis, One Shields Avenue, Davis, California 95616 Received 9 August 2007/ 
Returned for modification 1 November 2007/ Accepted 26 December 2007
The effectiveness of antibiotic treatment was examined in a mouse model of Lyme borreliosis. 
Mice were treated with ceftriaxone or saline solution for 1 month, commencing during the early, 
3 weeks, or chronic, 4 months, stages of infection with Borrelia burgdorferi. Tissues from mice 
were tested for infection by culture, PCR, xenodiagnosis, and transplantation of allografts at 1 
and 3 months after completion of treatment. In addition, tissues were examined for the presence 
of spirochetes by immunohistochemistry. In contrast to saline solution-treated mice, mice 
treated with antibiotic were consistently culture negative, but tissues from some of the mice 
remained PCR positive, and spirochetes could be visualized in collagen-rich tissues.
75Furthermore, when some of the antibiotic-treated mice were fed on by Ixodes scapularis ticks, 
xenodiagnosis, spirochetes were acquired by the ticks, as determined based upon PCR results, and 
ticks from those cohorts transmitted spirochetes to naïve SCID mice, which became PCR positive 
but cult ure negative. Results indicated that following antibiotic treatment, mice remained 
infected with nondividing but infectious spirochetes, particularly when antibiotic treatment 
was commenced during the chronic stage of infectio

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