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J Clin Microbiol. Jul 1994; 32(7): 1733–1738.
PMCID: PMC263779

Use of recombinant OspC from Borrelia burgdorferi for serodiagnosis of early Lyme disease.


Infection with Borrelia burgdorferi, the etiologic agent of Lyme disease, is associated with an early and dominant humoral response to the spirochete's 23-kDa outer surface protein C (OspC). We have cloned and expressed OspC as a fusion protein in Escherichia coli and have shown that patient serum samples react with it in an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) (S. J. Padula, A. Sampieri, F. Dias, A. Szczepanski, and R. W. Ryan, Infect. Immun. 61:5097-5105, 1993). Now we have compared the detection of B. burgdorferi-specific immunoglobulin M antibodies in 74 individuals with culture-positive erythema migrans by a whole-cell ELISA, immunoblot, and the recombinant OspC (rOspC) ELISA. Seventy-six negative controls were also studied. With all of the tests, there was a statistically significant association between the duration of disease and the frequency of a positive result. With the rOspC ELISA, the predictive value of a positive test was 100% and the predictive value of a negative test was 74%. Similar results were obtained with the whole-cell ELISA and with the immunoblot using as the source of test antigen a strain of B. burgdorferi which expresses abundant levels of OspC. We conclude that the use of rOspC in an ELISA is a convenient, readily automated, and easily standardized test for the serodiagnosis of early Lyme disease.

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