Bastien Lefeuvre 1 , Paola Cantero 2 , Laurence Ehret-Sabatier 2 , Cedric Lenormand 1 , 3 , Cathy Barthel 1 , Chrystelle Po 4 , Nikhat Parveen 5 , Antoine Grillon 1 , Benoit Jaulhac 1 , 6 , Nathalie Boulanger , 1 , 6
29 June 2020
Lyme borreliosis is the most prevalent vector-borne disease in northern hemisphere. Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato spirochetes are transmitted by Ixodes species ticks. During a blood meal, these spirochetes are inoculated into the skin where they multiply and often spread to various target organs: disseminated skin sites, the central nervous system, the heart and large joints. The usual diagnosis of this disease relies on serological tests. However, in patients presenting persistent clinical manifestations, this indirect diagnosis is not capable of detecting an active infection. If the serological tests are positive, it only proves that exposure of an individual to Lyme spirochetes had occurred. Although culture and quantitative PCR detect active infection, currently used tests are not sensitive enough for wide-ranging applications. Animal models have shown that B. burgdorferi persists in the skin. We present here our targeted proteomics results using infected mouse skin biopsies that facilitate detection of this pathogen. We have employed several novel approaches in this study. First, the effect of lidocaine , a local anesthetic used for human skin biopsy, on B. burgdorferi presence was measured. We further determined the impact of topical corticosteroids to reactivate Borrelia locally in the skin. This local immunosuppressive compound helps follow-up detection of spirochetes by proteomic analysis of Borrelia present in the skin. This approach could be developed as a novel diagnostic test for active Lyme borreliosis in patients presenting disseminated persistent infection. Although our results using topical corticosteroids in mice are highly promising for recovery of spirochetes, further optimization will be needed to translate this strategy for diagnosis of Lyme disease in patients.