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The impact of immunosuppression on erythema migrans. A retrospective study of clinical presentation, response to treatment and production of Borrelia antibodies in 33 patients.

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By Fürst B, Glatz M, Kerl H, Müllegger RR • • July 1, 2006


BACKGROUND: Little is known about the potential influence of immunosuppression on erythema migrans, the hallmark of early Lyme borreliosis.

METHODS: We performed a retrospective study to assess the impact of immunosuppression on erythema migrans in 33 patients with a malignant or autoimmune disease, chronic infection, or immunosuppressive therapy for organ transplantation. Only patients with active disease status and/or current immunosuppressive therapy were included. Pre-treatment clinical parameters, such as presentation of the skin lesion and presence of extracutaneous signs and symptoms, the disease course during a median follow-up of 9 months after therapy and serum anti-Borrelia burgdorferi antibodies before therapy and by the end of follow-up in the 33 immunosuppressed patients were statistically compared with 75 otherwise healthy patients with erythema migrans. The 75 control patients were matched for sex, age and antibiotic therapy.

RESULTS: With the exception of the site of erythema migrans lesions, which were found more often on the trunk than on the legs in the immunosuppressed patients (vice versa in immunocompetent patients), we found no significant differences for all investigated parameters between the two groups.

CONCLUSIONS: It appears that immunosuppression does not influence clinical presentation, response to therapy, or production of anti-B. burgdorferi antibodies of patients with erythema migrans. It is thus not necessary to treat immunosuppressed patients with erythema migrans differently from immunocompetent patients.

Clin Exp Dermatol. 2006 Jul;31(4):509-14.

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