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Clin Diagn Lab Immunol. 2002 Nov;9(6):1348-55.

Humoral immune response associated with lyme borreliosis in nonhuman primates: analysis by immunoblotting and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay with sonicates or recombinant proteins.

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Department of Neurosciences, UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, Newark, New Jersey 07103, USA.


The immune response to Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease, is complex. We studied the immunoglobulin M (IgM) and IgG antibody response to N40Br, a sensu stricto strain, in the rhesus macaque(nonhuman primate [NHP]) model of infection to identify the spirochetal protein targets of specific antibody. Antigens used in enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays were whole-cell sonicates of the spirochete and recombinant proteins of B. burgdorferi. Immunoblotting with a commercially available strip and subsequent quantitative densitometry of the bands were also used. Sera from four different groups of NHPs were used: immunocompetent, transiently immunosuppressed, extended immunosuppressed, and uninfected. In immunocompetent and transiently immunosuppressed NHPs, there was a strong IgM and IgG response. Major proteins for the early IgM response were P39 and P41 and recombinant BmpA and OspC. Major proteins for the later IgG response were P39, P41, P18, P60, P66, and recombinant BmpA and DbpA. There was no significant response in the NHPs to recombinant OspA or to Arp, a 37-kDa protein that elicits an antibody response during infection in mice. Most antibody responses, except for that to DbpA, were markedly diminished by prolonged dexamethasone treatment. This study supports the hypothesis that recombinant proteins may provide a useful adjunct to current diagnostic testing for Lyme borreliosis.

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