Antimicrobial action of calprotectin that does not involve metal withholding.

Metallomics doi: 10.1039c8mt00133b

YEAR: 2018 TOPICS: Basic Science, Treatment.

Heavy metals like iron, copper, manganese and zinc can be toxic in large amounts. But in low concentrations, they are essential micronutrients for humans as well as bacteria. As part of the defense against invasive microbes, our immune system exploits this property by starving bacteria of the metals they need to survive. One way of doing this is with calprotectin, an immune defense protein produced by neutrophils at the site of infections. Calprotectin depletes the local environment of metal nutrients, and can block Borrelia burgdorferi growth. The mechanism of how this works has now been explained in a newly published study, funded by GLA and led by Dr. Valeria Culotta.

Calprotectin was found in the dermal and epidermal layers of erythema migrans rashes of early Lyme disease patients. It is believed that epithelial keratinocytes in the skin produce calprotectin, which is more commonly associated with neutrophils, immune cells that are absent in this particular site. Surprisingly, calprotectin blocked B. burgdorferi growth not by depleting metals, as would be expected. Instead, it directly bound to the bacteria and changed their shape from spirochetes into a cyst-like form, when immersed in water. This differs from calprotectin’s mechanism of blocking another bacteria, E. coli, in which metal sequestration is essential to blocking bacterial replication. These findings suggest a unique new pathway that could be explored for a potential therapeutic that is specific to B. burgdorferi.

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Brave new worlds: the expanding universe of Lyme disease

Vector-borne Zoo Dis 17:619

Brissette CA

YEAR: 2017 TOPICS: Basic Science, Tick Biology.

C-reactive protein response in patients with post-treatment Lyme disease symptoms versus those with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome

Clin Inf Dis. 67(8):1309–1310.

Alaedini A

YEAR: 2018 TOPICS: Basic Science, Diagnostics.

Identification of Essential Oils with Strong Activity against Stationary Phase Borrelia burgdorferi

Antibiotics 2018, 7(4), 89;

Ying Zhang

YEAR: 2019 TOPICS: Basic Science, Chronic Lyme.

Persister forms of Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, are dormant or slow-growing, and tolerant of antibiotic treatment. It’s not clear yet whether persister bacteria, immune dysfunction, or some combination of the two is responsible for post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS), in which patients treated with antibiotics continue to suffer symptoms.

The search for novel compounds to kill persister bacteria has led to the discovery that essential oils (EOs), aromatic compounds produced by plants, may be promising. In an article published in Antibiotics, a peer-reviewed journal, scientists led by Dr. Ying Zhang of Johns Hopkins University identified 10 EOs that have strong activity against stationary phase B. burgdorferi at a low concentration of 0.1%. The study, underwritten by GLA, found that of the 10 EOs, those of garlic, allspice, and Palmarosa were active at even at 0.05% concentration. In addition, cinnamaldehyde, a major ingredient isolated from cinnamon bark, was active against both stationary phase bacteria as well as replicating B. burgdorferi at a 0.02% concentration.

A stringent test of antimicrobial activity against stationary phase bacteria is the capacity to block subcultured bacteria from growing. This means that after killing bacteria in culture with the inhibitor, a small amount of that culture is transferred to fresh growth media that lacks the inhibitor. Any regrowth indicates that the inhibitor did not completely kill all bacteria from the original culture. Under these conditions, only garlic and cinnamaldehyde were effective against the regrowth of B. burgdorferi spirochetes subcultured for 21 days.

These results indicate that certain EOs or their ingredients are potent in eliminating persister B. burgdorferi, and should be studied in greater depth to analyze their utility as potential treatments.

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Metagenomic-based surveillance of Pacific coast tick Dermacentor occidentalis identifies two novel bunyaviruses and an emerging human ricksettsial pathogen

Sci Rep. 7:12234. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-12047-6

Chiu CY

YEAR: 2017 TOPICS: Basic Science, Tick Biology.

Short-chain fatty acids alter metabolic and virulence attributes of Borrelia burgdorferi

Infec Immun 86(9): pii e00217-18. doi: 10.1128/IAI.00217-18

Seshu J

YEAR: 2018 TOPICS: Basic Science.

Stationary Phase Persister/Biofilm Microcolony of Borrelia burgdorferi Causes More Severe Disease in a Mouse Model of Lyme Arthritis: Implications for Understanding Persistence, Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS), and Treatment Failure

Ying Zhang

YEAR: 2019 TOPICS: Basic Science, Chronic Lyme, Treatment.

Abstract: Although most patients with Lyme disease can be cured with a 2-4 week antibiotic therapy, about 10-20% of patients continue to suffer prolonged persistent symptoms, a condition called post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS). The cause for PTLDS is unclear and hotly debated. B. burgdorferi develops morphological variants under stress conditions but their significance is not clear. Here we isolated the biofilm-like microcolony (MC) and planktonic (spirochetal form and round body) (SP) variant forms from the stationary phase culture and showed that the MC and SP were not only more tolerant to the current Lyme antibiotics but also caused more severe arthritis in mice than the log phase spirochete form (LOG). We propose to divide the persistent Lyme disease into two categories: (1) early development of persistent disease from inoculation with persister/biofilm at the beginning of infection introduced by tick bites, or Type I persistent disease (i.e., PTLDS); and (2) late development of persistent disease due to initial infection not being diagnosed or treated in time such that the infection develops into late persistent disease, or Type II persistent disease. Importantly, we show that the murine infection caused by LOG could be eradicated by ceftriaxone whereas the persistent infection established with MC could not be eradicated by doxycycline (Doxy), ceftriaxone (CefT), or vancomycin (Van), or Doxy+CefT or Van+CefT, but could only be eradicated by the persister drug combination daptomycin+doxycycline+ceftriaxone. Our studies demonstrate that varying levels of persistence and pathologies of Borrelia infection can be established with heterogeneous inocula with different morphologies and have different treatment responses. These observations may have broad implications for understanding pathogenesis and treatment of not only persistent Lyme disease but also other persistent infections in general and call for treatment of persistent infections with persister drug combination regimens that are more effective than the current often single-antibiotic monotherapy treatment.

Published in Discovery Medicine: 

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