Early murine Lyme carditis has a macrophage predominance and is independent of major histocompatibility complex class II-CD4+ T cell interactions

Eric M. Ruderman, Rush University
Janet S. Kerr, Harvard School of Public Health
Sam R. Telford 3rd, Harvard School of Public Health
Andrew Spielman, Harvard School of Public Health
Laurie H. Glimcher, Harvard School of Public Health
Ellen M. Gravallese, University of Massachusetts Medical School

At the time of publication, Ellen Gravallese was not yet affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.


To compare the role of macrophages and CD4+ T lymphocytes in early Lyme carditis, immunohistochemical techniques were used to analyze cardiac infiltrates in immunocompetent mice infected with Borrelia burgdorferi spirochetes. Macrophages predominated in the infiltrate during the first 4 weeks after infection. CD4+ and CD8+ lymphocytes each constituted < 5% of the infiltrate; B lymphocytes were rare. Infected mice deficient in class II major histocompatibility complex (MHC) antigen and depleted of CD4+ lymphocytes developed similar infiltrates, suggesting that class II MHC-CD4+ lymphocyte interactions do not play a critical role in disease initiation. Expression of mRNA encoding JE within areas of cardiac inflammation implicates this chemokine in the recruitment and activation of macrophages in this disease. These data demonstrate that early murine Lyme carditis requires neither class II antigen expression nor presentation of antigen to CD4+ T lymphocytes and suggest a direct response of macrophages to cardiac tissue invasion by B. burgdorferi.