A critical role for type I IFN in arthritis development following Borrelia burgdorferi infection of mice

Jennifer C. Miller, Ying Ma, Jiantao Bian, Kathleen C.F. Sheehan, James F. Zachary, John H. Weis, Robert D. Schreiber, Janis J. Weis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Gene expression analysis previously revealed a robust IFN-responsive gene induction profile that was selectively up-regulated in Borrelia burgdorferi-infected C3H mice at 1 wk postinfection. This profile was correlated with arthritis development, as it was absent from infected, mildly arthritic C57BL/6 mice. In this report we now demonstrate that profile induction in infected C3H scid mice occurs independently of B or T lymphocyte infiltration in the joint tissue. Additionally, type I IFN receptor-blocking Abs, but not anti-IFN-γ Abs, dramatically reduced arthritis, revealing a critical but previously unappreciated role for type I IFN in Lyme arthritis development. Certain examined IFN-inducible transcripts were also significantly diminished within joint tissue of mice treated with anti-IFNAR1, whereas expression of other IFN-responsive genes was more markedly altered by anti-IFN-γ treatment. These data indicate that induction of the entire IFN profile is not necessary for arthritis development. These findings further tie early type I IFN induction to Lyme arthritis development, a connection not previously made. Bone marrow-derived macrophages readily induced IFN-responsive genes following B. burgdorferi stimulation, and this expression required a functional type I IFN receptor. Strikingly, induction of these genes was independent of TLRs 2,4, and 9 and of the adapter molecule MyD88. These data demonstrate that the extracellular pathogen B. burgdorferi uses a previously unidentified receptor and a pathway traditionally associated with viruses and intracellular bacteria to initiate transcription of type I IFN and IFN-responsive genes and to initiate arthritis development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8492-8503
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 15 2008


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