Diagnosis of active
Lyme borreliosis (LB) remains a challenge in clinically ambiguous, serologically indeterminant, and polymerase chain reaction-negative patients. Lymphocyte transformation tests (LTTs) have been applied to detect specific cellular immune reactivity, but their clinical application has been severely hampered by the poorly defined Borrelia antigens and nonstandardized LTT formats used. In this study, we describe the development and clinical relevance of a novel LTT using a validated format (MELISA) together with well-defined recombinant Borrelia-specific antigens. From an initial screening of 244 patients with suspected Borrelia infection or
disease, 4 informative recombinant antigens were selected: OspC (Borrelia afzelii), p41-1 (Borrelia garinii), p41-2 (B. afzelii), and p100 (B. afzelii). Thereafter, 30 seronegative healthy controls were tested in LTT-MELISA(R) to determine specificity, 68 patients were tested in parallel to determine reproducibility, and 54 lymphocyte-reactive symptomatic patients were tested before and after antibiotic therapy to assess clinical relevance. Most (86.2%) of the 36.9% (90/244) LTT-MELISA positive patients were seropositive and showed symptoms of active LB. Specificity was 96.7% and reproducibility 92.6%. After therapy, most patients (90.7%) showed negative or markedly reduced lymphocyte reactivity correlating with clinical improvement. This novel LTT-MELISA assay appears to correlate with active LB and may have diagnostic relevance in confirming LB in clinically and serologically ambiguous cases.