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Arthritis Rheum. 1999 Dec;42(12):2705-9.

Lack of Borrelia burgdorferi DNA in synovial samples from patients with antibiotic treatment-resistant Lyme arthritis.

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Tufts University School of Medicine, New England Medical Center, Tupper Research Institute, Boston, Massachusetts 02111, USA.



To determine whether Borrelia burgdorferi DNA may be detected in synovial tissue from patients with Lyme arthritis who have persistent synovial inflammation after antibiotic treatment.


Synovial specimens obtained at synovectomy from 26 patients with antibiotic treatment-resistant Lyme arthritis and from 10 control subjects were tested for B burgdorferi DNA using 3 primer-probe sets that target genes encoding outer surface proteins A or B or a flagellar protein (P41) of the spirochete.


The 26 patients with Lyme arthritis, who had received antibiotic therapy for a mean total duration of 8 weeks prior to synovectomy, and the 10 control subjects each had negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) results in synovial samples. When the samples were spiked with approximately 1-10 B burgdorferi, all but 1 had positive PCR results, suggesting that spirochetal DNA could have been detected in most of the unspiked samples if it had been present.


These results indicate that synovial inflammation may persist in some patients with Lyme arthritis after the apparent eradication of the spirochete from the joint with antibiotic therapy.

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