The immune mechanisms responsible for development of Lyme arthritis are partially understood with interleukin-17 (IL-17) and gamma-interferon (IFN-γ) playing a generally accepted role. Elevated levels of IL-17 and/or IFN-γ have been reported in samples from human Lyme arthritis patients and experimental mice. In addition, IL-17 and IFN-γ have been implicated in the onset of arthritis in Borrelia-primed and -infected C57BL/6 mice. Recently, we showed that IL-17-deficient mice developed swelling and histopathological changes consistent with arthritis in the presence of high levels of IFN-γ. We hypothesized that neutralization of IFN-γ in IL-17-deficient mice would inhibit Borrelia-induced arthritis. Our results, however, showed that swelling of the hind paws and histopathological changes of arthritis did not differ between Borrelia-primed and -infected IL-17-deficient and wild-type mice with or without neutralization of IFN-γ. We also found higher levels of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) in the popliteal lymph node cells of Borrelia-primed and -infected IL-17-deficient mice after neutralization of IFN-γ. These results suggest that multiple cytokines interact in the development of Borrelia-induced arthritis.

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