Transformation of cystic forms ofBorrelia burgdorferi to normal, mobile spirochetes
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The purpose of this study was to evaluate the behaviour ofBorrelia burgdorferi under controlled conditions. The occurrence of cystic forms ofBorrelia burgdorferi in vitro was noted, and these cysts were able to be transformed to normal, mobile spirochetes.B. burgdorferi was cultivated in a commercial culture medium without serum. The spirochetes multiplied only slowly in this medium, and transformation to encysted forms was observed after 1 week. When these cysts were transferred to the same culture medium with rabbit serum, the encysted forms developed into regular, mobile spirochetes after 6 weeks, and their regeneration time was normal. Examination of these cysts in the transmission electron microscope revealed transverse fission inside the cysts. It is probable that similar phenomena may occurin vivo under conditions unfavourable for spirochetes. These observations may help to explain why diagnosis and treatment ofB. burgdorferi infections in humans can be difficult.
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