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Asymptomatic Borrelia-seropositive individuals display the same incidence of Borrelia-specific interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma)-secreting cells in blood as patients with clinical Borrelia infection.

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Abstract

Borrelia
Lyme disease is a complex disorder that sometimes becomes chronic. There are contradictory reports of experimental Borrelia infections regarding which type of T cell cytokine responses, i.e. Th1 or Th2, are needed to eradicate the Borrelia spirochaetes. In human borreliosis a predominance of Borrelia-specific Th1-like responses has been shown. In this study, spontaneous, as well as Borrelia-specific, secretion of IFN-gamma (Th1) and IL-4 (Th2) in Borrelia-seropositive healthy asymptomatic individuals (n = 17) was investigated in peripheral blood by a sensitive ELISPOT assay, and compared with previously reported responses in patients with clinical Borrelia infection (n = 25). The seropositive asymptomatic individuals displayed the same predominance of Borrelia-specific IFN-gamma-secreting cells as the patients with clinical Borrelia infection. Interestingly, the proportion of spontaneously IL-4-secreting cells, reflecting the unstimulated in vivo secretion, was lower in the seropositive asymptomatic individuals compared with patients with chronic Borrelia infections (n = 13, P = 0.02), whereas no such difference was found compared with subacute Borrelia infections (n = 12). These findings indicate that IFN-gamma secretion alone is not sufficient to eliminate Borrelia spirochaetes in humans, although IFN-gamma may still have a beneficial role in borreliosis acting in concert with other mechanisms.

Clin Exp Immunol. 1999 Mar;115(3):498-502. Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov’t

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