Generation of Mammalian Host-Adapted Borrelia burgdorferi by Cultivation in Peritoneal Dialysis Membrane Chamber Implantation in Rats

  • Melissa J. CaimanoEmail author
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 1690)


The transmission, survival, and virulence of Borrelia burgdorferi depend upon the spirochete’s ability to modulate its transcriptome as it cycles between its arthropod vector and reservoir host. This complex adaptive process is collectively referred to as “host-adaptation.” The paucibacillary nature of borrelial infections precludes the detailed analysis of host adaptation within infected mammalian tissues. To circumvent this limitation, we (J Clin Invest 101:2240–2250, 1998) developed a model system whereby spirochetes are cultivated within dialysis membrane chambers (DMCs) surgically implanted within the peritoneal cavity of a rat. Spirochetes within DMCs are exposed to many, if not all, of the environmental signals and physiological cues required for mammalian host adaptation but are protected from clearance by the host’s immune system.

Key words

Borrelia burgdorferi Lyme disease Spirochetes Host adaptation Gene expression Animal models 



The authors would like to thank Ms. Anna Allard for her superb technical assistance and Dr. Justin Radolf for his continued support of this work. This work is supported by NIH Grants AI029735 and AI 126146 and an American Heart Association Grant-in-Aid award.

Supplementary material

Supplemental Video 1

Generation of mammalian host-adapted Borrelia burgdorferi by cultivation in peritoneal dialysis membrane chamber implantation in rats. Subheading 3.2, Preparation of DMCs (MP4 25016 kb)

Supplemental Video 2

Generation of mammalian host-adapted Borrelia burgdorferi by cultivation in peritoneal dialysis membrane chamber implantation in rats. Subheading 3.3, Peritoneal implant procedure (MP4 313609 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media LLC 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of MedicineUConn HealthFarmingtonUSA
  2. 2.Department of PediatricsUConn HealthFarmingtonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Molecular Biology and BiophysicsUConn HealthFarmingtonUSA

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