Resolution of experimental and tick-borne <i>Borrelia burgdorferi</i> infection in mice by passive, but not active immunization using recombinant OspC
European Journal of Immunology, Wiley, 1999/29/3/946-957
Vaccination with outer surface protein A (OspA) of <i>Borrelia burgdorferi </i> prevents subsequent infection and disease in both laboratory animals and humans with high efficacy. OspA-based immunity, however, does not affect established infection due to the loss of OspA expression in the vertebrate host. We show here that repeated passive transfer of mouse and/or rabbit immune sera to recombinant GST-OspC fusion protein resulted in a dose-dependent resolution (1) of fully established arthritis and carditis as well as infection in needle-challenged C.B-17 SCID and (2) of infection in both experimentally and tick-infected BALB/c mice. Unexpectedly, active immunization of disease-susceptible AKR/N mice with GST-OspC only led to prevention but not resolution of disease and infection, in spite of high serum titers of OspC-specific Ab and the expression of ospC in tissue-derived spirochetes. The data suggest that the efficacy of OspC antibody-mediated immunity depends on the immunological history of the recipient and/or environment-dependent regulation of OspC surface expression by spirochetes in vivo. The results encourage further attempts to develop therapeutic vaccination protocols against Lyme disease.
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