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Lyme disease (LD) is the most common tick-borne
disease in the Northern hemisphere. It is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato, in particular, B. burgdorferi sensu stricto, Borrelia garinii, and Borrelia afzelii. However, other genospecies have been implicated as causative factors of LD as well. Borrelia burgdorferi exhibits numerous immunogenic lipoproteins, but due to strong heterogeneity, the use of these proteins for serodiagnosis and vaccination is hampered. We and others have identified acylated cholesteryl galactosides (ACGal) as a novel glycolipid present in B. burgdorferi sensu stricto, B. afzelii, and B. garinii. ACGal is a strong antigen and the majority of patients display anti-ACGal antibodies in the chronic stages of LD. However, it is unknown whether ACGal is present in other presumably pathogenic B. burgdorferi genospecies. Therefore, we performed an analysis of the total lipid extracts of a wide spectrum of genospecies of B. burgdorferi sensu lato using thin-layer chromatography as well as Western blot and dot-blot assays. We show that ACGal is present in substantial quantities in all B. burgdorferi genospecies tested. Therefore, this molecule might improve the serological detection of rarely pathogenic genospecies, and may be used as a protective vaccine regardless of the prevailing genospecies.
© 2011 Federation of European Microbiological Societies. Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved.