Volume 52, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



Lyme borreliosis is a newly recognized systemic infection with protean clinical manifestations. Because the localization of the causative spirochete () in infected tissues is unknown, we used electron microscopy to find spirochetes in the hearts of chronically infected mice. There were three predominant locations for the spirochete in the hearts. In mice infected for one month or less, the spirochetes were mostly in or around blood vessels. They were either in the lumen or in the perivascular space. Mice infected for more than one month had in cardiac myocytes as well, often with clear spaces around them. The third area in which spirochetes were common was collagen fibers; the borreliae were wrapped around fibers with their long axis parallel to the fibers. The number of spirochetes was relatively low, but there was no appreciable decrease in numbers of spirochetes with increasing time postinfection. Inflammatory infiltrates were primarily in the endocardium and pericardium, but spirochetes were generally not in or near areas of inflammation. These data are consistent with previously published information that have identified the heart as a site of chronic infection and inflammation in the mouse. The studies extend our understanding of the behavior of the spirochete in vivo by identifying common locations of and by noting the disparity between infection and inflammation.


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