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Infect Immun. 1994 Sep;62(9):3663-71.

Outer surface lipoproteins of Borrelia burgdorferi stimulate nitric oxide production by the cytokine-inducible pathway.

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Department of Pathology, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City 84132.


The outer surface lipoproteins of Borrelia burgdorferi, OspA and OspB, stimulate the production of nitric oxide (NO) by murine bone marrow-derived macrophages from BALB/c, C3H/HeN, and C3H/HeJ mice. Gamma interferon (IFN-gamma) caused a three- to fivefold enhancement of this production of NO, and the L-arginine analog N-guanidino-monomethyl L-arginine inhibited it. Activation of transcription of the inducible NO synthase gene in stimulated macrophages was demonstrated by reverse transcriptase rapid PCR. Although IFN-gamma increased the amount of NO produced in macrophage cultures, it did not cause transcription of the inducible NO synthase gene greater than that seen with the Borrelia proteins. OspA and OspB also induced the production of high levels (40 to 150 ng/ml) of IFN-gamma in cultures of macrophages incubated with interleukin-2 (IL-2)-elicited cells from normal (T and NK cells) and scid (NK cells) mice but not in macrophages or IL-2-elicited cells cultured individually. This suggests that OspA stimulated macrophage production of cytokines, which, in turn, stimulated the production of IFN-gamma by NK and T cells. Reverse transcriptase rapid PCR demonstrated that OspA and sonicated B. burgdorferi stimulated production of several inflammatory cytokines in macrophage cultures, including IL-1, IL-6, IL-12, IFN-beta, and tumor necrosis factor alpha. As tumor necrosis factor alpha, IFN-beta, and IL-12 are potent activators of IFN-gamma production by T and NK cells, their presence in these cocultures could be responsible for the IFN-gamma production. Lymphocytes from infected C3H mice also produced IFN-gamma when stimulated with B. burgdorferi; thus, immune cells may also modulate NO responses. The generation of NO during infection with B. burgdorferi may be important, as NO has potent antimicrobial properties. NO can also be involved in pathological inflammatory processes in which its generation is detrimental to the host. Thus, the colocalization of B. burgdorferi lipoproteins, NO-producing cells, and regulatory cytokines may determine the outcome of infection.

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