Scientists at the University Hospital Hamburg Eppendorf have presented their latest findings on the infectious Lyme disease, which is caused by the Borrelia bacterium. The disease is spread by ticks and can affect the skin, joints and nervous system. If an infection goes undetected, the illness can become chronic. New insight has been gained into decisive steps in the intracellular degradation of Borrelia in immune cells. The pathogens are disposed of in a “green bin”.
Bacteria processed by cellular “green bin”
The absorption and intracellular degradation of Borrelia by human immune cells is crucial in the fight against infection. The bacteria are encased in a membrane envelope, which leads to densification and ultimately to their complete degradation. “At the same time, the membrane is recycled and is then available for further absorption processes,” said Prof. Dr. Stefan Linder, Institute of Medical Microbiology, Virology and Hygiene at UKE.
The researchers identified key molecules at the interface of intracellular Borrelia degradation and membrane recycling in human immune cells. These findings may be transferable to other bacteria such as Treponema or Legionella and could therefore offer new targets in the fight against infections, said Linder.
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