Lyme disease is the most common arthropod-borne infection in the United States. Over 100,000 cases have been reported to date. The disease is a multisystem disorder with dermatologic, neurologic and rheumatologic manifestations. The causative agent, Borrelia burgdorferi1has been isolated from ticks, animals and humans from around the world and can generally be cultured in the laboratory using BSK-II medium.
While biologically significant concentrations of eukaryotic cell inhibitors such as aphidicolin, ara C, cis platinum, CPX, hydroxyurea, mimosine, nalidixic acid, trioxsalen and boromethyglycine showed little effect on the growth of Borrelia burgdorferiwhen added to BSK-II cultures, PPMP, a spingolipid analogue, showed immediate and profound inhibitory effects when monitored by dark-field microscopy, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), field emission scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and by optical density measurements at 600 mμ. PPMP (dl-thzreo-l-phenyl-2-palmitoylamino-3-morpholino-l-propanol) is known to inhibit the synthesis of spingomyelin in Chinese hamster ovary cells and to inhibit the synthesis of glucosylceramides in a large variety of mammalian cells.