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J Infect Dis. 2007 May 15;195(10):1489-96. Epub 2007 Apr 6.

Anti-tumor necrosis factor-alpha treatment activates Borrelia burgdorferi spirochetes 4 weeks after ceftriaxone treatment in C3H/He mice.

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Department of Medical Microbiology, University of Turku, Turku, 20520, Finland.



The effect of anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha treatment in Borrelia burgdorferi-infected and ceftriaxone-treated C3H/He mice was evaluated.


Mice were infected with B. garinii A218 or B. burgdorferi sensu stricto N40. At 2 weeks of infection, one group was treated simultaneously with ceftriaxone and anti-TNF-alpha, whereas another received ceftriaxone at 2 weeks and anti-TNF-alpha 4 weeks later. One group received ceftriaxone treatment only. Infected and noninfected control groups were sham treated.


At 14 weeks of infection, B. burgdorferi could not be detected by cultivation or by polymerase chain reaction in tissue samples of any mouse treated with ceftriaxone only. However, spirochetes grew from the tissue samples of one-third of the mice treated with anti-TNF-alpha simultaneously or 4 weeks after ceftriaxone. These activated spirochetes showed ceftriaxone sensitivity rates, plasmid profiles, and virulence rates similar to those of bacteria used to infect the mice. All infected control mice and mice given anti-TNF-alpha only were culture positive.


This report shows that, after ceftriaxone treatment for 5 days, a portion of B. burgdorferi-infected mice still have live spirochetes in their body, which are activated by anti-TNF-alpha treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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