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Immunobiology. 2000 Jan;201(3-4):406-19.

Comparison of two laboratory methods for the determination of serum resistance in Borrelia burgdorferi isolates.

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Institute of Medical Microbiology, University Hospital, Frankfurt, Germany.


A growth inhibition assay (GIA) and an immunofluorescence test detecting deposited complement components C6 and C9 were compared for their ability to classify Borrelia isolates with respect to their resistance to non-immune human serum (NHS). In both assays a total of 34 Borrelia isolates of all three human pathogenic genospecies were tested. Interestingly, 95% of the serum-sensitive or intermediate serum-sensitive isolates belonged to the genospecies B. burgdorferi s. s. and B. garinii, whereas most B. afzelii isolates (83%) proved serum-resistant. Consequently, a strong correlation between the assignment of the isolates to the different genospecies and their degree of serum sensitivity was seen. These findings were supported strongly by the quantitative analysis of the deposited complement components and the location of the terminal complement complex on the bacterial surface as detected by means of immunoelectron microscopy. The GIA displayed an obvious lack of sensitivity to slow growing isolates, whereas the IFA allowed classification of all Borrelia isolates. Discrimination between serum-sensitive and serum-resistant isolates in the IFA was the most specific provided that the detection of C6 and C9 was incorporated into the final classification of isolates. Accordingly, both assays, turned out to be effective and reliable tools for the investigation of borrelial serum sensitivity. The IFA, however, is regarded as superior to the GIA owing to the obvious ease of performance and its rapid capability for the classification of even very slow growing isolates.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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