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J Clin Invest. 1997 Apr 15;99(8):2030-5.

Acquired resistance to Borrelia burgdorferi infection in the rabbit. Comparison between outer surface protein A vaccine- and infection-derived immunity.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of California, Los Angeles, School of Medicine, 90024, USA.


Intradermal inoculation of the rabbit with Borrelia burgdorferi, sensu lato, results in the consistent development of erythema migrans (EM), dermal infection, and visceral dissemination of the spirochete. Within 5 mo, EM as well as dermal and visceral infection are cleared and the animals exhibit immunity to reinfection. This study compares infection-derived immunity with acquired resistance resulting from the administration of a lipidated recombinant outer surface protein A (OspA) vaccine presently undergoing human trial. 4 of 11 OspA vaccinated rabbits, challenged intradermally at each of 10 sites with 10(5) low passage B. burgdorferi, developed EM as well as dermal and disseminated infection. After identical challenge, 2 of the 11 infection-immune rabbits developed a dermal infection, but not EM or disseminated infection. Further, ELISA anti-OspA titers did not correlate with the status of immunity for either OspA vaccinated or infection-immune rabbits. Prechallenge ELISA anti-OspA titers were relatively low in the infection-immune group. This study demonstrates that a state of partial immunity to experimental Lyme disease may result that could potentially mask infection. Further, our data strongly suggest that immunogen(s) other than OspA is/are responsible for stimulating acquired resistance in the infection-immune rabbit.

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