Used with permission by Dr. Benjamin L. Clark University of Minnesota Medical School  (Image by Chris Little)

Scanning Electron microscope picture of borrelia in green contacting the surface of a macrophage.

Borrelia can move about 50x faster than this immune cell.

Also the macrophage is supposed to attack and engulf pathogens like Borrelia but in this case it is the pathogen attacking the immune system.

When Bb is engulfed it does not immediately trigger the cell’s lysosomes to merge and dissolve the captured bacterium.

In the following 2016 article, the study author states that the ability of a cell-surface adhesion protein called BBK32 in stabilizing and strengthening bacterial-vascular interactions under blood flow with the microbes using bungee-cord like tethers, is what gets borrelia to move through the body to evade the immune system causing persistence.

Similarly to children swinging on monkey bars, borrelia transfer force from one bond to the next without fully detaching, allowing them to move over endothelial surfaces at a constant speed much like leukocytes move through blood vessels.

Based on calculations utilizing the imaging system, researchers also believe that borrelia possibly use flagella to actively migrate along blood vessel walls, exiting the vasculature to reach specific sites against blood flow, much like swimmers in a river using their legs to kick toward trees lining the riverbank, then grabbing the tree branches to slow down, and finally pulling themselves up to exit the water to reach the shore.