Yan Jin Xu Cindy Lei


Introduction: The spread of Borrelia burgdorferi is greatly exacerbated by the climate crisis. Rising global temperatures have increased the geographic range of B. burgdorferi-carrying ticks. 3,3-diindolylmethane (DIM) is a widely used estrogen supplement with a highly concentrated positive charge on one side, potentially inhibiting bacterial growth by attracting the negatively charged bacterial membranes, causing membrane tearing. DIM could allow for more comfortable treatment of Lyme disease, as it displays no significant side effects when consumed up to 200 mg/L. Conversely, current antimicrobial protein-based drugs may induce side effects at their minimum inhibitory concentration.

Methods: To determine whether DIM displays antimicrobial properties and could therefore be an inexpensive and ergonomic treatment, its effect on membrane-enclosed vesicles will be compared with polymyxin B, which is known to inhibit membrane structural integrity. This will be analyzed by filling vesicles with red aniline dye, then establishing three groups with different treatments. The test, positive control, and negative control groups will be treated with DIM, polymyxin B, and no treatment respectively. The resulting absorbencies of the test, positive control, and negative control groups will be compared.

Results: The test group could show significant absorbance differences when compared to the positive and negative control groups, or no significant absorbance differences when compared to these groups. Positive and negative control groups should be compared with each other to ensure the groups display substantial and negligible dye release respectively.

Discussion: If the test group shows a significant absorbance difference from the negative or both positive and negative control groups, it can be concluded that DIM displays significant antimicrobial properties. Because the results illustrate DIM is as effective or more effective than polymyxin B at inhibiting B. burgdorferi cell membranes, DIM will be an effective treatment for Lyme disease. These results are only reliable if the standard deviations of each group do not overlap, and the positive control group has a significantly higher absorbance than the negative control group.

Conclusion: If the results suggest DIM displays strong enough antimicrobial properties to treat Lyme disease, its structure should be modified to improve integration into the bloodstream and gastrointestinal tract.

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Research Protocol