Immunization with a Borrelia burgdorferi BB0172-Derived Peptide Protects Mice against Lyme Disease
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Lyme disease is the most prevalent arthropod borne disease in the US and it is caused by the bacterial spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb), which is acquired through the bite of an infected Ixodes tick. Vaccine development efforts focused on the von Willebrand factor A domain of the borrelial protein BB0172 from which four peptides (A, B, C and D) were synthesized and conjugated to Keyhole Limpet Hemocyanin, formulated in Titer Max® adjuvant and used to immunize C3H/HeN mice subcutaneously at days 0, 14 and 21. Sera were collected to evaluate antibody responses and some mice were sacrificed for histopathology to evaluate vaccine safety. Twenty-eight days post-priming, protection was evaluated by needle inoculation of half the mice in each group with 103 Bb/mouse, whereas the rest were challenged with 105Bb/mouse. Eight weeks post-priming, another four groups of similarly immunized mice were challenged using infected ticks. In both experiments, twenty-one days post-challenge, the mice were sacrificed to determine antibody responses, bacterial burdens and conduct histopathology. Results showed that only mice immunized with peptide B were protected against challenge with Bb. In addition, compared to the other the treatment groups, peptide B-immunized mice showed very limited inflammation in the heart and joint tissues. Peptide B-specific antibody titers peaked at 8 weeks post-priming and surprisingly, the anti-peptide B antibodies did not cross-react with Bb lysates. These findings strongly suggest that peptide B is a promising candidate for the development of a new DIVA vaccine (Differentiate between Infected and Vaccinated Animals) for protection against Lyme disease.
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