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An optimized PCR leads to rapid and highly sensitive detection of Borrelia burgdorferi in patients with Lyme borreliosis.

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The present study aimed at developing an optimized PCR protocol fro the sensitive and specific detection of all three Borrelia burgdorferi genospecies pathogenic to humans in
Lyme borreliosis patients. A rapid DNA extraction method using alkaline lysis was introduced and was found to be superior to other DNA extraction methods. Nested PCR was performed with primer sets targeting the plasmid-located ospA gene and a chromosomal gene segment encoding a 66-kDa protein (p66). In spiked synovial fluid (SF) fewer than three borreliae/sample were detected. The specificities of the amplicons were confirmed by Southern blot analysis with PCR-derived probes. Urine, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), and SF specimens from 57 patients with
Lyme borreliosis and from 58 controls were examined. In clinical samples the diagnostic sensitivity of PCR was 85% with SF samples, 79% with urine samples, and 91% with paired SF-urine samples from patients with
Lyme arthritis and was 79% with CSF samples, 45% with urine samples, and 87% with paired CSF-urine specimens from neuroborreliosis patients. One patient each with neuroborreliosis and with
Lyme arthritis had PCR-positive urine samples only. In 17% of all cases both primer sets yielded positive results, while the other patients were positive with only one primer set. Among these, more positive results were obtained with the p66 gene primer than with the ospA primer. The specificity exceeded 99%. We conclude that DNA from B. burgdorferi sensu lato species can sensitively and specifically be detected with the optimized PCR method described. At least two different primer sets should be used, and whenever possible, urine and CSF or SF should be analyzed in parallel to achieve maximum sensitivity of the test. This protocol, therefore, considerably enhances the diagnostic power of PCR in patients with B. burgdorferi infection.

J Clin Microbiol. 1997 Mar;35(3):685-90. Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov’t

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