NYMC Faculty Publications


Transcriptome Assessment of Erythema Migrans Skin Lesions in Patients With Early Lyme Disease Reveals Predominant Interferon Signaling

Document Type


Publication Date

December 2017


Microbiology and Immunology


Background: The most common clinical manifestation of early Lyme disease is the erythema migrans (EM) skin lesion that develops at the tick bite site typically between 7 and 14 days following infection with Borreliella burgdorferi. The host-pathogen interactions that occur in the skin may have a critical role in determining outcome of infection. Methods: Gene arrays were utilized to characterize the global transcriptional alterations in skin biopsy samples of EM lesions from untreated adult patients with Lyme disease in comparison to controls. Results: The transcriptional pattern in EM biopsies consisted of 254 differentially regulated genes (180 induced and 74 repressed) characterized by the induction of chemokines, cytokines, toll-like receptors, antimicrobial peptides, monocytoid cell activation markers, and numerous genes annotated as interferon (IFN)-inducible. The IFN-inducible genes included three transcripts involved in tryptophan catabolism (IDO1, KMO, KYNU) that play a pivotal role in immune evasion by certain other microbial pathogens by driving the differentiation of regulatory T cells. Conclusion: This is the first study to globally assess the human skin transcriptional response during early Lyme disease. B. burgdorferi elicits a predominant IFN signature in the EM lesion, suggesting a potential mechanism for spirochetal dissemination via IDO1-mediated localized immunosuppression.