Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How ticks transmit Lyme disease to humans: Imaging technique leads to better understanding

Date:
November 17, 2009
Source:
University of Connecticut Health Center
Summary:
Using a powerful microscopic live imaging technique, researchers have discovered the way ticks transmit Lyme disease to humans is different than previously thought.

Using a powerful microscopic live imaging technique, a research team led by Dr. Justin Radolf, professor in the Departments of Medicine and Genetics and Developmental Biology at the University of Connecticut Health Center, has discovered the way ticks transmit Lyme disease to humans is different than previously thought. The research is published online in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Lyme disease is caused by transmission of the spirochete bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi from ticks to humans but for a number of technical reasons, the transmission process has been difficult to study.

Radolf and researchers Star Dunham-Ems and Melissa Caimano tried a novel approach. They genetically modified a virulent strain of B. burgdorferi to express green fluorescent protein (GFP). "This bacterium glows and can be followed in the living state as it migrates through the tick to the mouse during feeding," explains Radolf. "Then using a powerful microscopic technique called confocal microscopy, we discovered that the transmission process unfolds quite differently than previously believed."

Spirochetes in culture are highly motile, and it is widely believed that during feeding, the spirochetes in the midgut rapidly move through the wall of the midgut. But Radolf and his team found that during much of the feeding period, the spirochetes do not move. They actually divide and surround the cells of the midgut lining or epithelium, forming tight networks. "We also found that the reason they don't move is that the tick midgut secretes molecules that actually inhibit the motility of the spirochetes," explains Radolf.

Eventually, spirochetes in the networks reach the base of the epithelium by completely surrounding the epithelial cells. At this point, they become motile, detach, and completely penetrate the midgut, although in very small numbers. These few bacteria then swim to the salivary glands, which they penetrate en route to the mouse. "So rather than being entirely motility-driven, dissemination of spirochetes within ticks actually happens in two phases," says Radolf, "which is something we didn't know before."

Lyme disease is the most prevalent vector-borne infection in the United States with more than 25,000 new cases reported annually. A substantial percentage of these cases occur in Connecticut. "The improved understanding of the transmission process revealed by our study could lead to novel strategies for controlling the spread of Lyme disease," says Radolf.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Connecticut Health Center. The original article was written by Carolyn Pennington. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Star M. Dunham-Ems, Melissa J. Caimano, Utpal Pal, Charles W. Wolgemuth, Christian H. Eggers, Anamaria Balic and Justin D. Radolf. Live imaging reveals a biphasic mode of dissemination of Borrelia burgdorferi within ticks. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2009; DOI: 10.1172/JCI39401

Cite This Page:

University of Connecticut Health Center. "How ticks transmit Lyme disease to humans: Imaging technique leads to better understanding." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 November 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091116180134.htm>.
University of Connecticut Health Center. (2009, November 17). How ticks transmit Lyme disease to humans: Imaging technique leads to better understanding. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091116180134.htm
University of Connecticut Health Center. "How ticks transmit Lyme disease to humans: Imaging technique leads to better understanding." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091116180134.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is expected to send 3,000 troops to West Africa as part of the effort to contain Ebola's spread. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) A Texas man is lucky to be alive after he and three others floated for more than a day in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat sank during a fishing trip. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
EU Ministers and Experts Meet to Discuss Ebola Reponse

EU Ministers and Experts Meet to Discuss Ebola Reponse

AFP (Sep. 15, 2014) The European Commission met on Monday to coordinate aid that the EU can offer to African countries affected by the Ebola outbreak. Duration: 00:58 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Despite The Risks, Antibiotics Still Overprescribed For Kids

Despite The Risks, Antibiotics Still Overprescribed For Kids

Newsy (Sep. 15, 2014) A new study finds children are prescribed antibiotics twice as often as is necessary. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

      Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins