Protective niche for Borrelia burgdorferi to evade humoral immunity

Fang Ting Liang, Eric L. Brown, Tian Wang, Renato V. Iozzo, Erol Fikrig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


The Lynae disease spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi, is an extracellular microbe that causes persistent infection despite the development of strong immune responses against the bacterium. B. burgdorferi expresses several ligand-binding lipoproteins, including the decorin-binding proteins (Dbps) A and B, which may mediate attachment to decorin, a major component of the host extracellular matrix during murine infection. We show that B. burgdorferi was better protected in the joints and skin, two tissues with a higher decorin expression, than in the urinary bladder and heart, two tissues with a lower decorin expression, during chronic infection of wild-type mice. Targeted disruption of decorin alone completely abolished the protective niche in chronically infected decorin-deficient mice but did not affect the spirochete burden during early infection. The nature of protection appeared to be specific because the spirochetes with higher outer surface protein C expression were not protected while the protective niche seemed to favor the spirochetes with a higher dbpA expression during chronic infection. These data suggest that spirochetal DbpA may interact with host decorin during infection and such interactions could be a mechanism that B. burgdorferi uses to evade humoral immunity and establish chronic infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)977-985
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Pathology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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