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Cell Immunol. 1999 May 25;194(1):118-23.

Cross-reactivity of Borrelia burgdorferi and myelin basic protein-specific T cells is not observed in borrelial encephalomyelitis.

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Center for Neurologic Diseases, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, 02115, USA.


Borrelial encephalomyelitis, a rare manifestation of Lyme borreliosis, may present as a multiple sclerosis (MS)-like disease. It is postulated that in MS, inflammation of the white matter is caused by a T-cell response directed to myelin antigens. Here, we examined whether a T-cell autoimmune response may play a pathogenetic role in Borrelia-associated white matter disease mediated by cross-reactivity between myelin basic protein (MBP) and B. burgdorferi. We generated a total of 1760 short-term T-cell lines against B. burgdorferi or MBP from two patients with Borrelial encephalomyelitis and compared these with three patients with late Lyme disease, one patient with transverse myelitis, eight patients with MS, and four healthy controls. While a few T-cell lines recognized both B. burgdorferi and MBP, T-cell clones from these lines responded only to the antigen of the original stimulation. Thus, our data do not provide evidence for cross-reactivity between MBP and B. burgdorferi.

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